Active U.S. Navy personnel and veterans gathered Tuesday in Cape Elizabeth to mark the 79th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Eagle 56 in 1945. The crew was remembered for their sacrifice and service. Mikayla Patel / Sentry

The U.S. Navy commemorated the sinking of the USS Eagle 56 off the coast of Cape Elizabeth on April 23, 1945, with a wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday at Fort Williams Park.

The Navy patrol vessel was torpedoed by a German submarine. Forty-nine crew members were killed and 13 were rescued. It was the greatest loss of U.S. Navy personnel in New England waters during the war.

A wreath was placed at the memorial for the USS Eagle 56 at Fort Williams Park. Mikayla Patel / Sentry

The ceremony was held at the memorial to the USS Eagle near Portland Head Light.

Many of the Navy officers present were crew members of the USS John Basilone, named after Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, who was killed in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Cmdr. Carne Livingston and Lt. Keisha Castillo were among those who spoke in honor of the fallen men of the USS Eagle.

Presenting at the memorial is “a unique responsibility for those of us in uniform,” Livingston said. “It’s awesome being able to come out and remember their sacrifice and service, and also put someone tangible in front of people to make that connection between us and those they can’t see.”


By gathering in uniform, he said, it’s a reminder of the connection they have to those who have been lost.

“It’s such an honor that we’re here to honor the first memorial for the USS Eagle here at Portland Head Light,” Castillo said.

“These are the moments of history that remind us of the importance of honor, loyalty and sacrifice, which is the motto of our ship,” she said. “Those lives that were lost and the families that lost those they loved, those are things that are real to the life of a military person. It’s a risk we take but it’s something we volunteer for.”

Many veterans were present, and some lined up for a shotgun solute. Castillo listed the names of the killed servicemen, and Livingston carried out the wreath-laying ceremony and called for a moment of silence to remember them.

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