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Corpus Christi Veterans Give Submarine Send off in Pearl Harbor

 Wearing the traditional lei on her sail, USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) arrives in Pearl Harbor for a port visit on her way to her new homeport in Guam. (Photo: Journalist 2nd Class Cori Rhea)
Wearing the traditional lei on her sail, USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) arrives in Pearl Harbor for a port visit on her way to her new homeport in Guam. (Photo: Journalist 2nd Class Cori Rhea)

The Veterans Band of Corpus Christi performed more than 3,600 miles from home.

Their mission? Giving a proper send off to a submarine named for the band's hometown.

The invite to perform at Pearl Harbor this weekend for the decommissioning ceremony for the USS City of Corpus Christi was humbling. Even more impressive was the outpouring of support the group of veterans received to fund their trip, band members said.

Ram Chavez, the band's founder and director, said about 42 members, including the Funky Rock Jazz Band, and their spouses attended the ceremony in Hawaii this past weekend.

"We will honor our city, the USS City of Corpus Christi and the citizens who made it possible for the veterans band to make this performance," Chavez said in a news release before their trip.

The group arrived at Pearl Harbor on Friday and the Funky Rock Jazz Band performed for the submarine's crew on Saturday. The Veterans Band performed at the ceremony on Monday. The group is due back on Thursday. They are set to perform on Friday at the Lexington Museum on the Bay to mark the Battle of Midway anniversary.

The trip's cost was estimated at about $80,000, which required the help of Corpus Christi residents and many others.

Many of the donations came from individuals as far away as Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Mexico, California and Germany.

The USS City of Corpus Christi was first commissioned in 1983 and named after the city because of its long association with the Navy. It returned to Pearl Harbor Feb. 12 after its final deployment, a five-month cruise into the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The warship served in the Cold War and the Global War on Terror, according to a news release from the Commander Submarine Forces Pacific Public Affairs Office.

Chavez said the band was contacted in November by the submarine's commanding officer, Travis Petzoldt, and his wife about the performance. The band, which has been together three decades, performed in several fundraiser concerts in Corpus Christi leading up to the trip.

The Veterans Band of Corpus Christi has played at national ceremonies including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and two Presidential Inaugural Parades in Washington D.C., Chavez said.

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