Skip to comments.Pearl Harbor Survivor Makes Final Voyage
Posted on 08/19/2010 9:36:31 PM PDT by nickcarraway
John Melvin Wilson was an eighteen-year-old Seaman Second Class the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and targeted his ship the USS Honolulu.
"He was eating breakfast and all of a sudden all the sirens went off and somebody yelled, 'This is not practice. This is for real!" his daughter Mary Brown said.
Wilson survived and lived to be 85.
When he died in 2008 his daughters kept his ashes. Then they had an idea.
"I didn't even know it was usual practice to have a ceremony for Pearl Harbor survivors," said his daughter, Jackie Turner.
They contacted Jim Taylor, who organizes memorial services for Pearl Harbor survivors.
The ash-scatterings include full military honors.
"A vast majority of them request or choose to come back here and have their remains scattered in the waters of Pearl Harbor so they can be with the shipmates that they lost that day," he said.
The ceremonies take place at the USS Arizona Memorial or the USS Utah Memorial.
They average three a week.
The sisters said their dad visited Pearl Harbor several times to honor the dead and to celebrate those who survived.
"This is his actual hat that he wore day in and day out every single day until he died," Brown said, pointing at the cap on her head.
She said her father never spoke of his ashes being scattered at Pearl Harbor. She and her sister made that choice
"I'm looking forward to being able to come back in the future here and remember my dad," Turner said.
Since the memorial program began in 1996, the ashes of 229 attack survivors have been cast to the wind and water at Pearl Harbor.
John Wilson is the latest and he won't be the last.
I’ve been to the USS Arizona memorial but didn’t even know about a USS Utah site.
Thank you for posting. God bless them all. My Dad served in CBI Theater of War.
USS Honolulu (CL-48), 1938-1959
USS Honolulu, a 9650-ton Brooklyn class light cruiser, was built at the New York Navy Yard. Commissioned in June 1938, she made her shakedown cruise to England, then operated for nearly a year in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Honolulu was transferred to the Pacific in May 1939 and had her base moved to Pearl Harbor in November 1940. Damaged by a Japanese bomb in the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, repairs allowed her to begin wartime operations in January 1942.
After several months of escort duties between the United States and the south Pacific, in late May 1942 Honolulu was sent to the Aleutians to counter enemy advances into that area.
Smaller than the USS Arizona site, the hulk was pulled from the channel and left on the shore.
You can see the remains rusting away in the hot Hi sun.