Pearl Harbor survivor makes final voyage

Jackie Turner
Jackie Turner

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

FORD ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - 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.

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