~ December 07, 2011 ~

* The passing of another WWII hero - Clayton Wilson.
* "Memories of Pearl Harbor" by Melvin Sepulvado


Dec 07, 2011 - The passing of another WWII hero - Clayton Wilson.

Last week I received an email from Tom Wilson the nephew of Clayton Wilson (shown left in the above photo) that Clayton was gravely ill and a link to where I could send him an email. Clayton was a Fire Officer in the Fox Division - the same division that my father served. I immediatley sent an email to Clayton to see how he was doing and thank him for his service to our country and last night I received this message from Tom:

Dave,

I want to let you know that Clayton passed away early this morning (Dec 6). He received your message and was very appreciative. It meant a lot to receive the message just as it meant a lot in his life to serve in the Navy and with the crew on the Idaho.

The funeral will be held at Arlington National Cemetary. We have yet to be notified on the date and time.

Thanks for your special message and work on remembering the men who served during the war. - Sincerely, Tom

Today as we remember those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, we also remember another genuine American hero gone, but not forgotten - CFC Clayton Wilson - USS Idaho (34-44). Sincerest condolences to his family. ~ Dave Roye


Fox Division

(Click on photo to enlarge)

 



Memories of Pearl Harbor Day - Dec 07, 1941
by Melvin Sepulvado


"Dedicated to my beloved Grandson, Ryan Roye,"
Written Dec. 07, 1997

My name is Melvin Sepulvado. I am a native of Louisiana having been born in Zwoiie, Louisiana, Sabine Parish. I was raised in Natchitoches Paris and finished high school in Marthaville, Louisiana. This is my eye witness and survivor account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 07, 1941, by the Japanese Navy.

After finishing high school in 1939, I enrolled in a trade school in Natchitoches, Louisiana, studying to be an electrician. It was a two-year course. I attended this school for fourteen months. I became discouraged since I had no money, nor did my parents, so I quit the trade school and took a job with a local electrical company. I worked as a helper at $.25 an hour, and I had to pay one dollar a day for room and board. This might be hard to believe, but this was in 1941 before the war started, and jobs were hard to come by.

I became discouraged again, so I applied for a Civil Service jog as an electrician's helper. Within three week, I received a telegram from New Orleans, Louisiana, informing me that they could place me on a job in Hawaii, at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard as a shipfitter's helper at $.75 an hour. I had never heard of Pearl Harbor, nor had many other people, at this time, in 1941 before the war started. I was ecstatic since this was three times what I was making as an electrician's helper. I did not know what a shipfitter was. I had not even seen a ship. I had never been out of the state of Louisiana, and I had never ridden a train, the principle mode of transportation at the time. In all of my enthusiasm I rushed to respond to the job offer. I sent them a telegram, advising them that I would accept the job. I was then 20 years old. Within three hours I received travel orders and a train ticket about a foot long, to San Francisco, California. I boarded the train in Natchitoches and began my journey to the West Coast where I was supposed to board a troop ship for the voyage to Hawaii. I was terrified that I would get lost or get on the wrong train, since there were transfers and stopovers along the way.
When we got to Fort Worth, Texas, we had a stopover, and I met a boy from South Carolina. He was also going to Pearl Harbor to work and was an experienced traveler. We stayed together, became good friends, and I felt so relieved that I was not going to get lost.

I arrived in Hawaii in August, 1941, and started working at Pearl Harbor. I was just overcome with the beauty of the island; everything was so peaceful and the climate was really nice. This was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.

The Navy had a welding school in the Navy yard and I became fascinated with the welding trade, so I enrolled in the school and became a welder, a trade that followed until I retired in 1982 from Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, Texas. I was working six days a week at first, so on the Sunday morning of December 07, 1941, at 7:55, I was in my bunk asleep when I heard the zooming of airplanes overhead, and deafening sounds from explosions and concussions. I rolled out of my bunk and walked to the door at the end of my barracks. I opened the door and looked up and there was a Japanese Zero fighter plane about 100 feet flying overhead, firing its two guns - one in the nose of the plane and one in the tail. At this time it was strafing the planes, which were on the ground at Hickam Field, just a short distance from my barracks. Well, we knew at this time that we were under attack by the Japanese.

Very shortly, Martial Law was declared, and all the men in our reservation were ordered to go down into the Navy Yard where the Japanese were bombing and torpedoing or warships. We were ordered to take shelter in our respective shops while the air raid was in progress. We tried to get the military to give us some army rifles, so we could defend ourselves and w could probably have shot at an d killed some of those Japanese pilots, since they were flying so low, but they would not let us have any. I never have understood why they ordered us right into the line of fire, without any way to defend ourselves. We all would have been killed instantly if the Japs had hit our shop with a bomb.

The Japanese were attacking with dive-bombers, fighter planes, horizontal bombers, and torpedo planes. The fighter planes were used to strafe our planes on the ground where most of our planes were that Sunday morning. The horizontal bombers and torpedo planes were used to damage and sink the large warships.

Within less than three hours, 130 ships had been heavily damaged or sunk. The smoking ships that were hit started burning, since they had a lot of oil in their huge tanks. The smoke was so black and dense that I just covered the whole area of the Navy Yard, and it looked like twilight. It was such an eerie sight. There was so much confusion; no one seemed to know what to do. There were so many injured military personnel, who were being transported to the hospitals, that they did not have enough ambulances, so they just used any kind of vehicle that was available.

After the raid was over, we were ordered out to the repair basins to start repairing the damaged ships. We had to start working twelve and fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for about three years. After the raid we could only work, eat, and sleep. We could not go anywhere since Martial Law was in effect, and there was a total blackout for several months. Martial Law continued for three years.

As soon as the war started, our supervisors advised us that they would rather we would keep working to help repair the damaged ships, and the ones which were sunk and raised. They told us if we would agree to do that, they would give us a deferral from Military Duty, so this is what I did. (More about this later).

I worked at Pearl Harbor during the entire war (forty-seven months, to be exact) helping to repair the ships which were damaged or sunk during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 07, 1941. Also, we had to repair a lot of the ships which were damaged during the Pacific Naval battles with the Japanese, taking back all the islands the Japs had taken during the war: Guadalcanal, the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Okinawa, and others.

In November 1945, after the war ended, I was reclassified 1-A and recommended for military duty, while still there in Pearl Harbor, working for the Navy. I was ready to perform my duty in the military, but it was obvious to me hat the Navy had kept me there working at Pearl Harbor for four years, and they did not need me anymore, so they turned me over to the army. My contention then, and still is, that I would have much rather gone into the military service while the war was going on.

I entered the army, there in Hawaii, in November 1945, and took my basic training at Schofield Barracks. After finishing my basic training, I was shipped to New Caledonia for occupation duty there. I served a year, then was shipped back to Californian where I was honorably discharged at Camp Peal in January, 1947.

Before leaving Pearl Harbor, I was awarded a "Certificate of Honorable Service" from the Navy for my part in helping to win the war. I am very proud of this award, as I worked very had over there and under some of the most horrible working conditions you could imagine, working on and repairing the ships, which had been sunk and were raised, and on all of the ships which were damaged during all the Naval battles the Navy had with the Japanese throughout the war.

Your Grandfather,
Melvin Sepulvado (signature)

Footnote: Melvin's grandson, Ryan Roye is the son of Mack L. Roye's nephew and serves in the USMC reserves while attending the University of North Texas. He will graduate from UNT in the spring of 2005.

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