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Two Bell Memorial Ceremony honors fallen servicemembers

  • Published
  • By Staff Reports
Military personnel from Misawa Air Base attended a Two Bell Memorial Ceremony at the main chapel here April 13 to commemorate the 1969 loss of an EC-121. This annual ceremony honors the deaths of servicemembers who have fallen in the line of duty. 

Thirty-eight years ago, on April 15, a Navy EC-121 aircraft was shot down by a North Korean MIG Fighter. The EC-121's crew of 30 Sailors and one Marine all perished in the attack. 

The EC-121 took off from Atsugi Naval Air Station and began its routine mission flying clockwise around the Sea of Japan. Everything was normal until a ground station in South Korea radioed a warning that two MIGs were headed toward the propeller-driven, unarmed aircraft. 

The crew of the EC-121 acknowledged the message and turned seaward from a position well outside the 12-mile limit claimed by North Korea, and attempted to return to base. Radars monitoring the aircraft from Japan showed a jet intercept and pass the EC-121. Then the EC-121 disappeared from the screen and was never heard from again. 

Today, the Two Bell Memorial Ceremony offers a moment to remember the 31 servicemembers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. 

The ceremony evolved from early naval history from the days when the ship's bell was used to signal various evolutions in the daily routine. Two bells marked the end of the workday and offered the crew a chance to relax and reflect before taps. 

Petty Officer 1st Class Erich Keough, Navy Information Operations Command, rang two bells to honor 22 Sailors from Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1, eight Sailors from Naval Security Group Activity Misawa and one Marine who perished in the Navy EC-121. 

The ceremony concluded when Sailors from NIOC saluted the wreath.