USS Monitor, famous for its role in the first battle of ironclads during the American Civil War, was designed by Swedish-born John Ericson and built in 118 days in Brooklyn, N.Y. beginning Oct 25, 1861. Less than two weeks after its Feb. 25, 1862 commissioning, it entered Hampton Roads on March 8 for the fateful encounter with its confederate rival. A little more than nine months after that, the ship sank in a storm off the coast of North Carolina Dec. 31, 1862, taking with it 16 Sailors.
Nearly 140 years later, Navy divers exploring the wreck of the ship during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition discovered the remains of two of those Sailors. The remains were sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Center in Honolulu, Hawaii for identification. Although JPAC's studies have so far been inconclusive, the center has enough material on hand to continue their research, allowing the remains to finally be laid to rest in a full military honors ceremony.
Media and the public are invited to attend that ceremony which will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, March 8 (the 151st anniversary of Monitor's arrival in Hampton Roads for the first battle of ironclads).
Media are also invited to attend the dignified transfer of remains March 7 at 11:30 a.m. at Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va. Media wishing to attend the dignified transfer, interment ceremony or both events should contact Lt. Lauryn Dempsey at (703) 697-5342 or email [email protected] Please RSVP by 5 p.m. (EST) March 4.
The ceremony will be attended by a number of descendants of Monitor Sailors including some who are descended from the 16 who lost their lives when the ship sank. While in town they will attend a luncheon hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in Alexandria, Va. at 11:00 a.m. March 8. Media wishing to attend this event should contact Vernon Smith at (301) 713-4248 or email [email protected]
The military honors ceremony begins later that afternoon with a chapel service at 4 p.m. followed by the burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Secretary of the navy Ray Mabus, a senior NOAA official, and Dr. James McPherson, a civil war author and historian, will speak at the event.