by Raymond (Rusty) W. Rent, Jr. MM2 (SS)-U.S.S. Thomas A. Edison SSBN 610

TO THE VALIANT WARRIORS OF THE KURSK From the United States Navy Submarine Force and submariners around the world ... Toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye we have faced each other under the silent seas. Unseen, unnoticed and unknown by most of our countrymen whom we were there to protect and defend. Once enemies, now only wary observers and today only brothers.... Only we, as few others can even begin to comprehend, know the full measure and extent of your sacrifice to your country as you went about your job. We, know the isolation and loneliness you endured so that others might enjoy their families in peace. We, know the years of children's lives lost and lovers arms unfilled. We, know the unforgiving hostility of the environment in which you lived, equaled only by those who go into space, not for days or weeks but months on end. We, know the knowledge you carried with you every moment tucked neatly in a box in the corner of your mind, that you walked in the belly of a beast. A capricious beast who merely tolerated your presence.

One that, at any moment, might decide to allow the most insignificant part of itself to malfunction and devour you, as it has done. We, understand the unspoken fears and thoughts you carried with you of just such an eventuality. We, know the close camaraderie and bonding with your fellow shipmates, each there for the other - each dependent on the other to be the very best they could be, as you faced the dark, cold, silent crushing depths together. Few men ever have the privilege of knowing the spirit of that bonding. From that brotherhood shared, through the long days of not knowing, we were with you perhaps not in body but certainly in mind and spirit. So it is on this day with thankfulness in the final knowledge, or at least the prayer, that all of you mercifully never even had the time to even realize your fate much less experience it, we accept the finality of your passing.

There but for the grace of God walk any of us, so we stand in unison and salute you ... our fallen brothers. Now our thoughts and feelings turn to those who loved you and remain in this world without you. Our prayers ask to give them strength and solace for the pain and grief they are enduring. We hope the lessons to be learned from your death and ultimate sacrifice will be seized upon, by all nations and especially by yours, and be taken to heart by those who can correct the causes and can prevent it from happening again so that your deaths will not be in vain and may someday keep other brothers from the same fate. Nevertheless, with honor and respect we shall keep your memory alive, as we do for our own that are Forever On Patrol........