PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- On Dec. 5, two days before the 70th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Day, a memorial ceremony was held for 81-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Jack Gordon Franklin, at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island.
The ceremony included a short religious service, the scattering of ashes, and a three-volley rifle salute provided by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Navy Detachment Honor Guard. A bugler from U.S. Pacific Fleet Band was also on hand to sound "Taps," and at the end of the ceremony a Sailor presented an American flag to Franklin's eldest daughter Joey Elaine Duncan.
"It was really beautiful," said Duncan. "I haven't stopped crying yet. It was a beautiful day too and I appreciate the military doing this for us. It just means so much. It's closure for us."
Franklin, who died July 12, 2005, was a 17-year-old Sailor aboard USS West Virginia (BB 48) during the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks.
Retired Command Master Chief James Taylor, a volunteer at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs, hosted the ceremony and said Franklin expressed desire to his children to have his remains returned to Pearl Harbor so he could be with his friends and shipmates who were lost during the attack.
"Thanks to his three children- Joey, Tim and Pat- his wish has come true," said Taylor.
Born, on Jan. 31, 1924, Franklin joined the Navy a few days after his 17th birthday in January 1941. Franklin was a mess cook on West Virginia when the attack started. Duncan said when Franklin went topside he was wandering around the ship looking for people.
"A chief was the one who signaled him to get to the gun," said Duncan. "I haven't been able to find out but they used to call him Chief Smithy."
Franklin reached an anti-aircraft battery and fired the only shots from the battery during the raid. The West Virginia was hit by numerous torpedoes and two bombs. More than 100 crew members including the ship's commanding officer were killed that day.
Franklin continued to serve throughout the war effort, participating in major battles such as the Battle of Midway and the Battle of Coral Sea. He saw his last action at Buckner Bay in Okinawa, Japan, ducking Japanese Kamikaze planes.
Franklin was such a devout Christian that his shipmates called him "Holy Joe" because he preached to anyone who would listen. After serving, he dove into several ventures including ministry, operating a café, doing public relations work for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and managing an art gallery until his death in 2005. He is survived by Joey, Timothy and Patrice.
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