Dead Pearl Harbor Vets Return To Ships - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Dead Pearl Harbor Vets Return To Ships

AOL.COM - Lee Soucy, who lived to be 90 after surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, is finally back with his shipmates 70 years later.

Soucy passed away just last year. On Tuesday, seven decades after dozens of fellow sailors were killed when the USS Utah sank on Dec. 7, 1941, Navy divers took a small urn containing his ashes and put it in a porthole of the ship.

The ceremony is one of five memorials being held this week for servicemen who lived through the assault and want their remains placed in Pearl Harbor out of pride and affinity for those they left behind.

"They want to return and be with the shipmates that they lost during the attack," said Jim Taylor, a retired sailor who coordinates the ceremonies.

The memorials are happening the same week the country observes the 70th anniversary of the aerial bombing that killed 2,390 Americans and brought the United States into World War II. A larger ceremony to remember all those who perished will be held Wednesday just before 8 a.m. Hawaii time – the same moment the devastating attack began.

Most of the 12 ships that sank or were beached that day were removed from the harbor, their metal hulls salvaged for scrap. Just the Utah and the USS Arizona still lie in the dark blue waters. Only survivors of those vessels may return in death to their ships.

Soucy, the youngest of seven children, joined the Navy out of high school so he wouldn't burden his parents. In 1941, he was a pharmacist mate, trained to care for the sick and wounded.

He had just finished breakfast that Sunday morning when he saw planes dropping bombs on airplane hangars. He rushed to his battle station after feeling the Utah lurch, but soon heard the call to abandon ship as the vessel began sinking. He swam to shore, where he made a makeshift first aid center to help the wounded and dying. He worked straight through for two days.

The cremated remains of Vernon Olsen, who served aboard the Arizona, will be interred on his ship during a sunset ceremony Wednesday. The ashes of three other survivors are being scattered in the harbor. Click here to read more

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