USS Arizona survivor returns to fallen brothers
The December rain in Hawaii gave way to a bright and windy day on the USS Arizona Memorial, where a Marine was laid to rest with his fallen brothers.
Frank R. Cabiness was interred at the USS Arizona Memorial here Dec. 23, becoming just the second Marine survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor to have his remains placed inside the hull of the ship.
Cabiness, a private first class assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the USS Arizona, was on the flag detail the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The attack started just before the detail was to raise the ship’s morning colors.
Cabiness immediately climbed to his battle station 80 feet above the deck of the ship. He said he didn’t notice, or couldn’t remember the explosion that sunk the USS Arizona, but when he looked down, the whole front of the ship was gone.
Because of the damage, he and the other 14 Marines present were given orders to get off the ship. Cabiness slid down the ladders so fast, his hands blistered. To escape the ship, he swam through burning waters to Ford Island.
After his service in the Marine Corps, Cabiness eventually moved to Texas and passed away on May 14, 2002. But from the time he enlisted in September 1940 to the day he died, he never forgot the friends he made aboard the USS Arizona.
“He had always expressed that when he died, he wanted to be interred at the Arizona,” said Jerry Cabiness, Frank Cabiness’ son.
“I lost all of my good friends …,” said Frank Cabiness during an interview with the Dallas Morning Sun before he died. “I never had another close friend after, that’s because it was too hard… my friends were at their battle stations when they died.”
Seventy years after that infamous December morning, and 10 years after his death, the wish to rejoin his fellow shipmates entombed in the USS Arizona was finally granted. Cabiness joined 33 Sailors who had previously been interred, as well as his fellow Marine, Pfc. James E. Cory.
As the divers took the urn from the hands of Cabiness’ son and dipped beneath the water, his family shed their final tears.
“(It’s rewarding) doing the service for the family,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond M. Shinohara, the Marine coordinator for the interment. “It shows that we as a Corps are strong and will take care of our own.”
The ceremony was not filled with people mourning the Marine’s death, but with his family, the National Park Service and the Marine Corps honoring his heroism and celebrating the long life he lived after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Together, they were able to grant him his final wish.
“He is my hero,” Jerry Cabiness said. “I can’t think of a more honorable man that I’ve ever known. This is fitting for his life and a fitting memorial to the men who perished in the ship.”
Article by Cpl. Isis M. Ramirez, Marine Forces Pacific