(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photos by MC2 Diana Quinlan
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
The ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor Chief Warrant Officer John W. Welton (Navy ret.) were placed in the waters during a ceremony July 2 near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Among those in attendance were Welton’s children Robert Welton and 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, offered 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, Calif. and joined the Navy in September 1936. His career began in the Asiatic Fleet, now known as the U.S. 7th Fleet, and later he was stationed at Pearl Harbor aboard the destroyer USS Sicard (DM 21) on the day of the 1941 Japanese attack.
Welton served throughout World War II and participated in numerous battles and campaigns in the Pacific theater, advancing his military career from enlisted ranks of metal-smith chief petty officer to chief warrant officer.
He retired in December 1953 with multiple awards including World War II Victory, China Service, American Area Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific and 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 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 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.”
“Everybody wants to know how they will be remembered, and it is truly an honor to see someone in my family recognized in this way — our dad. It was overwhelming — an unbelievable experience, far more special than I would have imagined,” Robert added.
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.”