Pearl Harbor Survivor Receives Final Honors at USS Utah Memorial

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - The ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor Chief Warrant Officer John W. Welton, U.S. Navy (ret.), were placed in the waters near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during a ceremony on July 2.

Among those in attendance were Welton's children Robert Welton, Sharon Chamberlin and other family members. Capt. Lawrence Scruggs, deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, provided remarks as the guest speaker, and Lt. Richard Tiff, a chaplain with Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, provided the benediction.

"It is another beautiful day in paradise," said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony. "Perfect for honoring an American Hero. Today [Welton] would have been 96 - Happy Birthday John!"

Welton was born in Roseville, California, and joined the Navy in September of 1936. His career begun in the Asiatic Fleet, now known as the 7th Fleet, and later he was stationed in Pearl Harbor aboard the destroyer USS Sicard (DM 21) on the day of the 1941 Japanese attack.

Welton went on to serve throughout World War II and participated in numerous battles and campaigns all over the pacific theater, advancing his military career from enlisted ranks of Metalsmith Chief Petty Officer to chief warrant officer. He retired in December of 1953 with multiple awards including World War II Victory, China Service, American Area Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with two stars and others.

"John never wavered in faith or spirit, not on that dreadful day in infamy, nor in the remaining years to come," said Scruggs. "His work ethic and a great attention to detail would serve John well and would separate his Navy career from most in his rate. An officer highly respected by his peers, the enlisted men and the senior officers he served with."

Military honors included a gun salute and the presentation of the burial flag to the family by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard. During the presentation of the flag, Robert and his sister Sharon joined hands and held them for the duration of the ceremony.

"I understood that it was a fantastic ceremony, but there is no way to put in words - it was so much more than I have imagined," said Robert. "Today would have been my dad's birthday, and I cannot think of a better way to honor him."

Robert also added, "Everybody wants to know how they will be remembered, and it is truly an honor to see someone in my family to be recognized in this way - our dad. It was overwhelming - an unbelievable experience, far more special than I would have imagined."

Welton is one of the many Pearl Harbor Survivors who joined his shipmates at USS Utah Memorial as their final resting place.

"Chief Warrant Officer John Welton, you have permission to come aboard," said Scruggs. "God bless you and your shipmates who rest here and those who have gone before us to secure the freedoms we so dearly enjoy today."

Additional information