State grant will help build a submarine monument to honor vets
A group of World War II submariners are one step closer to breaking ground on creation of a new memorial in Beaverton's Memorial Park.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission last week approved a $26,000 grant that would cover a portion of the costs to build a monument in the northeast corner of the park honoring the 86 sailors and officers lost on the USS Albacore SS218 when the submarine hit a mine Nov. 7, 1944, while submerged in waters between the main Japanese islands Honshu and Hokkaido.
The lottery-funded grant was one of seven approved by the commission March 13 to build memorials in Beaverton, Central Point, Coos Bay, Estacada, Gresham, Irrigon and Scio. An eighth grant will help restore an existing Douglas County War Memorial next to the county courthouse in Roseburg.
'This grant will allow us to pay for things like the engraved stonework, granite, lighting standards and special flag and flower containers for our memorial,' said Robert Meidell Lee, who serves as the secretary and treasurer of the Oregon Loggers chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans of World War II.
The Oregon Loggers have been working with Beaverton American Legion Post 124 for more than a year to secure funding and support for creation of the new war memorial.
'This monument will honor our lost shipmates, who are now on eternal patrol,' Lee said.
Securing the state grant means a great deal to his group.
'We hoped to move this project along a little faster because my submarine organization is getting older and older,' he said. 'Our median age is 86 and there are only 75 of us left in Oregon.'
The U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II is an organization formed in 1958 to carry on the memory of those shipmates who gave their lives in submarine warfare.
After the war, each state was assigned at least one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II and charged with the task to build a memorial to its denizen of the deep.
The USS Albacore is Oregon's designated vessel.
For the past several years Oregon submariners have scoured the state looking for the ideal home for their SS218 monument.
After running into several obstacles and crossing several potential sites off its list, the group found the perfect location in Beaverton's Memorial Park and gained the support of the legion, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District leaders and Mayor Rob Drake.
'We're going through the hoops and it's coming along,' Lee said of the project. 'We're now beginning the approval stages with the city.
'Once we get the structural drawings approved, we'll start trying to put some things on the ground.'
The proposed monument is designed to look like the bow of a submarine rising from the sea at a 60-degree angle with the bow planes extended.
The bow planes will be engraved with the names of the 86 crewmen lost on the SS218. A short wall will extend outward from the bow and simulate streaming water.
The memorial will also feature plaques sharing the story of the USS Albacore. If resources are available, veterans also hope to add plaques honoring each of the other submarines lost during World War II.
'The submarine part of the monument itself will have to be hand formed,' Lee said. 'I think it will be a rather novel approach, like building a concrete boat, using Ferro concrete.'
In the next couple weeks, Lee hopes to finish the drawings and submit an approval application to the city.