Ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor James McDavid scattered at USS Utah Memorial

Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

The ashes of James H. McDavid, a survivor of the Dec.7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, were scattered in the waters near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island during a ceremony held Dec. 4.

“James’s wish was to have his remains returned to Pearl Harbor so he could join his shipmates killed that fateful day,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony.

“Thanks to Metha, his loving wife of 67 years, his wish will come true immediately following full military honors, which he so richly deserves.”

McDavid was born March 23, 1921 in Waco, Texas. His family had lost everything during the Great Depression, so he joined the Navy in hopes of getting an education.

He was stationed aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania at Pearl Harbor. He initially was attached to the gunnery division, but requested to change position and was assigned to be a plane spotter. His battle station was on the upper mast of the ship.

The change of position was fortunate for McDavid. The Sailor who took his place at the guns was killed on Dec. 7.

In a similar stroke of luck, his ship Pennsylvania was also in a different position than usual that day. It was in the shipyard. Taking Pennsylvania’s place on Battleship Row was the USS Arizona. McDavid is said to have felt a bit guilty about this, especially since two of his best friends served aboard Arizona and were killed during the attack.

Pennsylvania was not spared, though, and was struck by a 500-pound bomb. Still, McDavid kept to his battle station.

“He stood his watch bravely for three hours as Japanese fighter planes and bombers attacked,” said Capt. Larry Scruggs, deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, who also spoke at the ceremony. “He embodied the spirit of the U.S. Navy.”

McDavid served in the Pacific for the remainder of the war, eventually achieving the rank of electronics technician first class petty officer.

“He was entrusted to repair some of the Navy’s most complex and secret technologies,” said Scruggs.

After his discharge from the Navy, McDavid settled in Pacifica, Calif. and worked at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard for 32 years. For the last 12 years of his life, he resided in Sacramento. He died in March of this year.

Also attending the ceremony last Tuesday were McDavid’s widow Metha, his daughter Linda and granddaughter Christine. Chaplain Lt. James Ragain, Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, presided over the services.

“I just have so much appreciation for Capt. Scruggs, Chaplain Ragain and of course Jim Taylor, who was so helpful and reassuring,” said Metha McDavid. “The ceremony was beyond what I expected … I felt proud to be an American.”

Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, presides over the ceremony honoring James McDavid.

James McDavid’s granddaughter Christine is given the American flag honoring her grandfather.

The ashes of James McDavid are scattered in the waters near the USS Utah Memorial.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: News