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Amarillo Pearl Harbor Survivor Has Ashes Returned To Ship After He Died

(Photo Courtesy of Amarillo Globe News)

Today we remember the tragic events of Pearl Harbor that happened 70 years ago. Maybe it’s because my husband Lane served in the Navy, but every year my heart breaks for all those Americans who’s lives changed forever that December day. I came across this story in the Amarillo Globe News today and just had to share it.

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.

Lee , a  Plainview native had just finished breakfast the morning of December 7th when he saw the planes dropping bombs. He was able to set up a makeshift first aid center where he cared for countless sailors as they died on the shore for two days straight. Lee returned many years later on the 65th anniversary where he decided he wanted to be interred on the sunken ship.

Soucy’s three children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren — 11 family members altogether — attended the sunset ceremony on Tuesday. His wife died earlier this year.

Amid overcast skies, a Navy diver took the urn, protected by a mesh bag, and held it above water while swimming toward the Utah. The diver, who was accompanied by three supporting divers, went underwater to the porthole once reaching the ship.

An urn carrying the ashes of Vernon Olsen, who was among the 334 on the Arizona to survive the attack, will be interred in a gun turret on the ship Wednesday.

Since the program began in 1980 around 265 survivors have been returned to the ship.Most of the battleship’s 1,177 sailors and Marines who died on Dec. 7 are still entombed on the ship.



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