Navy League councils in Spain and France
marked notable anniversaries of historic
events with mid-January ceremonies that
included the participation of members of
U.S. Sixth Fleet, the French and Spanish
navies, U.S. Sailors and Marines, U.S.
Embassy representatives, a number of local
dignitaries and organizations and many vis-
itors who traveled a long way to attend.
The Barcelona Council commemorated the 40th
anniversary of a tragic accident in the port of Barcelona involving Sailors and Marines from two U.S.
Navy vessels, the helicopter carrier USS Guam and the
amphibious assault vessel USS Trenton. Forty-nine U.S.
service members were killed when the 17-meter landing craft they were aboard returning from liberty in
the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1977, collided with
a merchant freighter. More than 100 service members
were aboard the craft at the time of the accident.
In Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, the French Riviera-Monaco Council partnered with Les Américains et la
6ème Flotte à Villefranche-sur-Mer and the mayor of
Villefranche to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the
departure of U.S. Sixth Fleet, which had been based there
during the 1950s and 1960s. Sixth Fleet moved its headquarters to Naples, Italy, on Jan. 20, 1967.
While the events in Villefranche-sur-Mer had a festive air about them, the Barcelona commemoration was
understandably more somber.
A Marine from USS Guam who survived the landing
craft accident — Harry Lamar Thomas, and his wife,
Lisa, of Amarillo, Texas — led an effort over the last
year to organize a reunion of other survivors to mark
the anniversary of the tragedy in Barcelona, according
to a report in the Amarillo Globe-News.
As the process moved forward, they got in contact
with Barcelona Council President Salvador Molist to
help organize a ceremony in memory of the victims,
The ceremony opened with the Marine Honor Guard
and the Spanish and American national anthems. This
was followed by speeches from the Consul General of
the United States, and representatives from the U.S.
Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Marine Corps.
The names of the dead were read as each family
member stood and a bell was tolled. A trumpeter from
the Barcelona Music Conservatory played “Taps” while
everyone present stood at attention. The family members then received the Gold Star Medal from the Consul
General and the six submarine divers were decorated
with the Memorial Coin of USS Guam and USS Trenton.
Honor Landmark Historical Events
BY PETER ATKINSON, DEPUTY EDITOR