Doug Comella
page 1

Most of you are aware that I was on a tour with The National WWII Museum
this past week in Honolulu. We were there to visit many historical sites involved
in the attack at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 and to honor the men and
women who both died and survived that attack. Doug

Front side

Back side

Our days were busy as can be seen in the Daily Schedule for 7 December 2016.

On Sunday, 4 Dec 2016, we honored the men who are entombed within the USS Arizona
at its Memorial site in the waters of Pearl Harbor.

At that time little did four of us know that we would receive an honor that at this moment is beyond words.
You will notice in the Daily Program that the afternoon of 7 December 2016 was devoted to Memorials and the
Pacific Aviation Museum.

Earlier in the week one of the staff, Becky, approached me with a question. Daniel Martinez, Interment Officer,
National Park Service, had requested that the WWII Museum invite four guests to attend the Memorial Ceremony
and Interments taking place the afternoon of 7 December 2016 at the USS Arizona Memorial.

There was a decision to be made, one that took a micro second. We would not be able to see the places that
the other members of our tour group were visiting that afternoon.

A common thread among the four of us so highly honored is that we all had fathers who were at Pearl Harbor
on 7 Dec 1941. My dad was on the USS Oklahoma. Susan's father was a B-17 pilot and later was flying a B-29.
Lou and Helen were children living with their father on Ford Island. One of their grandfathers had been a CNO
of the US Navy.

Attached are the pages from the ceremony. In his comments at the end of the ceremony, Daniel Martinez
stated that this was the first dual interment ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, family members and guests were invited to participate in the Floral Tribute.
We were seated in the middle open section of the Memorial. As we slowly walked toward the basket of flowers,
Steve Watson of the Museum staff told me " Doug, look at that ". Steve was pointing at the wreath from the
USS Helena Organization that was the last one along the open starboard side of the Memorial.
Attached are photos that Steve took.

The words on the wreath banner read as follows:
U. S. S. Helena (CL-50)
Machine Gun Cruiser

Photo Credit:
Stephen J. Watson Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
The National WWII Museum
945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

This was and is one of many moments during this past week that had the Why and How connection.
The officers of the USS Helena Organization knew that I would be on this tour.
But none of us knew that I would be among the honored guests at this ceremony nor did I know that
they would be sending a wreath to the Memorial.

My mind is still reeling over this. Susan told me of the many arrows crossing my path this past week.
And by far this was the most surprising.

I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of this Memorial Ceremony.
Emotional is an understatement.

Daniel Martinez told me it is okay to use the pages at the USS Helena Organization web site.

You have encountered the phrase " Why Me ".
This thought has been going through my mind this past week.
Susan and I talked of our sleepless night following contact by the staff and each of us
had the same thoughts going through our minds.

Why Me?

Douglas Clinton John Graff Comella

Son of S1c Kenneth Eugene Graff

Survivor USS Oklahoma
Pearl Harbor
7 December 1941

KIA - RNR 6 July 1943
Battle of Kula Gulf
USS Helena CL-50



Graff Index

Shipmate Collections