A Pearl Harbor survivor of the USS Utah was interred recently with his shipmates. As part of the 70th anniversary commemorations, we were present at sunset on 6 Dec 2011, when the ashes of Lee Soucy were interred with his Utah shipmates.

Pearl Harbor Commemorations in 2011

Because my husband is a retired Army officer, we were able to stay right on Ford Island, in what was once the officers’ club.

On the chaotic morning of December 7, it was a triage center for casualties. The Utah, a converted battleship, 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. But only the Arizona is open to the public.

Pearl Harbor Survivor of the USS Utah

Survivors gather at the Utah ceremony, 2011

Pearl Harbor Survivor of the USS Utah

Lee 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 at the USS Utah website, and here at military.com. My husband and I feel privileged to have attended the 70th anniversary Pearl Harbor commemorations,  and the interment ceremony for Mr. Soucy in particular.