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Floyd Welch, one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors, hero, dead at 99

Former USS Maryland (BB-46) crew member and Pearl Harbor survivor Electricians Mate Floyd Welch and his daughter Laurie Broglio, share memories with Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas McMillian and Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristian Cheeks during the Dec. 7 USS Oklahoma Memorial Ceremony on Ford Island. (U.S. Navy photo, Justice Vanatta/Released)
August 20, 2020

Floyd Welch, who served as a U.S. Navy sailor during World War II and was one of the last living survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died on Monday at age 99.

Welch, died peacefully at his home in East Lyme, Connecticut on Monday, his family said in a statement provided to the Associated Press.

Welch was born on February 1921 in Burlington, Connecticut. He was 19-years-old when he was serving aboard the USS Maryland on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii took place.

On the Sunday morning of the attack, Welch said he was coming out of the shower when he heard the alarms and then the explosions of Japanese bombs and torpedoes. He reportedly saw the burning and overturned USS Oklahoma right next to the USS Maryland when he arrived to his station on the ship’s deck.

Floyd joined efforts to help those aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack.

“By using blueprints of the Oklahoma, so as not to burn into a fuel void, we began the long and extremely difficult process of cutting holes through the bottom steel plates of the Oklahoma,” Floyd a remembrance of the battle, reported by the AP. “When we could see the planes coming, we would try to find cover. We would cut near where we heard the trapped crewmen tapping. In all, I believe 33 men from the Oklahoma were rescued through these holes.”

In total, more than 2,400 U.S. personnel were killed during the Pearl Harbor attack.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Floyd continued to serve through World War II. He reportedly served on the USS Maryland for the entirety of the war, and earned numerous honors, including American Defense Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the United States Navy Constitution Medal.

After leaving the Navy in 1946, Floyd went on to work in various jobs, including as an alarm installer, a farmer and a milkman. He would later go on to form his own construction company Welch & Son, which built road infrastructures, foundations, and drainage systems throughout the northeastern United States.

Welch also served as an officer in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. He was a guest of honor in 2016 at the 75th Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Ceremony, held in Hawaii.

Welch is survived by his wife, Marjorie, six children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. The family is reportedly planning a private graveside funeral service.