Lee Soucy, USS Utah Pearl Harbor Survivor: Tombstone Tuesday

USS Utah Memorial, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 6 Dec 2011

USS Utah Memorial, Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 6 Dec 2011

Today’s Tombstone Tuesday is a bit unusual because the tombstone is the USS Utah, a converted battleship that was sunk in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. The USS Arizona and the USS Utah are the only surviving underwater memorials left at Pearl Harbor and only the Arizona is open to the public.

Because my husband is a retired Army officer, we were able to stay right on Ford Island. One of the 70th anniversary events was held at sunset on 6 Dec 2011 at the USS Utah Memorial, honoring those who died there and to inter the ashes of one of the Utah survivors, Lee Soucy.

Survivors gather at the Utah ceremony, 2011

Survivors gather at the Utah ceremony, 2011

An article about the 2011 Pearl Harbor survivor interments notes:

[Soucy] 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 Utah lost nearly 60 men on Dec. 7, and about 50 are still entombed in the battleship. Today, the rusting hull of the Utah sits on its side next to Ford Island, not far from where it sank 70 years ago. More about the late Lee Soucy’s Pearl Harbor experience is available here and here.

My husband and I feel privileged to have attended the 70th anniversary Pearl Harbor commemorations – and the ceremony for Mr. Soucy in particular – last week.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

One Comment

  1. Cheryl Cayemberg 13 December 2011 at 6:10 AM

    A wonderful remembrance. Sometimes seeing a place as beautiful as Hawaii makes it so hard to believe something so tragic could happen. Very fortunate to have been able to be there for the ceremonies!

    Thanks for sharing.

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