Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Students walk past WWII relic

The U.S.S. Pelias crew ship survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 1980, Cerritos College received a replica of the ship’s bell. Photo credit: Briana Velarde

An often overlooked “heirloom” here at Cerritos is the U.S.S. Pelias Bell. Where did it come from and why is it there?

The U.S.S. Pelias crew ship survived the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 1980, Cerritos College received a replica of the ship’s bell.

It was brought to the attention of Nello Di Corpo, Dean of Community Services at the time, that the college needed a victory bell.

Di Corpo then contacted a salvage yard and found the Pelias bell. Shortly after Donald Bongers, one of the ships crew members, contacted Di Corpio. Bongers wanted to purchase the bell.

Treasurer of Cerritos College Foundation Janice Cole said, “Mr. Bongers told Di Corpio that the crew would have reunions all over the country to commemorate its time on the ship.”

After some negotiation, Di Corpio convinced Mr. Bongers that Cerritos College would be a great location to store the replica from Pearl Harbor.

In 1980, the college agreed to display the bell not only as a sign of victory but as a memorial to the crew and those who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor.

Many Pelias crew members gathered on campus and dedicated the U.S.S. Pelias bell to the campus. “Crew members from all over the world converged on Cerritos College to dedicate the bell and the monument that displays it,” Cole said.

The bell was displayed on the day of the college’s 25th anniversary and can be seen in the Administration building quad. The bell itself has “U.S.S. Pelias 1941” deeply engraved. Right below the engraving is a finely bronzed plaque that states it was given by the Cerritos College Foundation and U.S.S. Pelias crew in 1980.

“The crew also donated thousands of dollars for a scholarship that bears its name for engineering or physics students that we continue to give out each year,” Cole added.

The Pelias scholarship was first established in 1984 and has been given out since then to outstanding students graduating from the engineering or physics program.

Anyone can donate to the Pelias scholarship fund, which is located inside the Cerritos College Foundation office.

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About the Contributor
Briana Velarde, Online Editor
Just a journalist in the making. You can call me Bree.  This is my last semester on the newspaper but like everyone else I started as a staff writer. I have also been Social Media, Multimedia, and Arts & Entertainment editor. Currently pursuing a career in journalism. Music, entertainment, and visual stories are my passion. How much time do I spend in the newsroom? All day. Well maybe not all day because I work at a theater and sweep popcorn for a living, but hey these bills aren't going to pay themselves. My ultimate goal to become a digital content producer for a radio station. If all else fails catch me designing for a magazine like Complex or Fader. Since my life revolves online, therefore I am your current Online Editor. Excited to be able to share my content on the online and print version of Talon Marks, read all about it!
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  • K

    Katie MooreDec 6, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Hi Mark Edwards! I just found this while reading up on tomorrow’s anniversary history. My grandfather was on the Pelias in Pearl Harbor, though he passed about a decade ago. I’m wondering if your father was one of the crewmen who were on campus for the bell dedication?


  • M

    Mark EdwardsAug 16, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Do happen to know if the original Pelias ship’s bell is still in existence? My Dad was on the AS-14 Pelias during WW2 and is still living.

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Students walk past WWII relic