A remembrance ceremony will be held on the USS KIDD’s fantail on Tuesday, April 11th, which is the 72nd anniversary of the day when a kamikaze aircraft went through the hull of the USS KIDD (DD-661). The ceremony will take place at 1:55 p.m., the exact time that the attack began on April 11, 1945, while off the coast of Okinawa, just south of Japan. The KIDD and her squadron had fought off three aerial raids that day before a fourth raid resulted in the ship being struck on her starboard side by one lone suicide plane. The aircraft first attacked the USS BLACK but the pilot pulled up, skimmed over it, and crashed into the hull of the KIDD. During the attack, 38 crew members were killed and an additional 55 members of the crew were injured.
"According to the 'The Sacrificial Lambs' by Bill Sholin, more than 300 vessels were struck by kamikazes at the Battle of Okinawa with over 5,000 sailors lost,” said Ship Superintended Tim NesSmith. “That's more vessels damaged or lost than in any other single battle in the history of the U.S. Navy. The majority of the ships struck were destroyer type ships like KIDD." The KIDD Crew will be remembering those onboard the ship on that fateful day alongside one of the few remaining survivors of this attack, Coach Fred King of Miami, Florida. Many of the survivors are now ages 90 and up and are unable to travel great distances to visit their old ship. Many family members now often attend in their stead. A rare artifact will also be presented to the museum at that time: the battle-scarred U.S. flag that flew aboard ship off of Okinawa. Christopher Brittin, the son of Lieutenant Burdick H. Brittin, the ship’s Executive Officer who survived the attack, will return the flag to the ship from which it last flew 72 years prior. He will also be presenting his father’s military foot locker so that it may once again reside in the Executive Officer’s stateroom aboard the KIDD. Another outstanding artifact related to the attack is going on display: The Kamikaze and the KIDD, a painting of the attack by artist Lieutenant Colonel Paul Eckley, USAF (Ret.). Eckley’s brother, John W. Eckley, served aboard the KIDD and survived the collision. Colonel Eckley painted the attack based on the recollections of his brother and his fellow shipmates. The artist’s daughter drove from Pennsylvania in December to deliver the painting for inclusion in the museum's newest display, an art exhibit entitled Captured In Canvas—The USS KIDD as Interpreted Through the Brush & Lens. The exhibit is scheduled open on April 11 to coincide with the anniversary of the attack.
The Kamikaze Attack Remembrance Ceremony is free and open to the public. Touring will be available at the regular admission prices of: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans and $6 for children ages 5-12.