Ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor scattered at the USS Utah Memorial

Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth

Assistant Editor, Ho`okele

The ashes of Chief Fire Controlman Leo M. Shumard, 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 March 11.

Shumard was born March 29, 1916 in Madison, Ill. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1938 and by Dec. 7, 1941, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor serving on board the battleship USS Maryland. During the attack, the Maryland was struck by two armor-piercing bombs but not sunk.

“The ship was fortunate to be inboard of the USS Oklahoma,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor volunteer survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony.

“The Oklahoma was one of the three ships, along with the USS Arizona and USS Utah, that suffered the most damage and never saw service again. Amazingly, only three men from the Maryland were killed in action that day.”

On Dec. 30, 1941, the Maryland entered Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs and was sent back in action in June 1942. The Maryland was the first ship damaged at Pearl Harbor to return to duty.

“After Dec. 7, Leo remained assigned to the USS Maryland until 1943 when he was promoted to the exalted position of chief petty officer,” said Taylor.

“He was then transferred to the USS Willoughby and continued to see action in the western Pacific, including the Philippines, Midway Island and Borneo.”

Shumard was discharged after seven years of honorable service in October 1945. He settled in Washington state and became a mason and bricklayer. His craftsmanship can still be seen in many of Seattle’s finer homes.

Leo Shumard died on Jan. 23 in Ocean Shores, Wash. It was his wish to have his ashes scattered at Pearl Harbor and his wish came true, thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Navy and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Members of Shumard’s local post worked with Hawaii’s VFW to fly his remains here where the Navy provided full military honors during the ash-scattering ceremony.

“This was the first event where two different VFW posts came together for an ash scattering at Pearl Harbor,” said Ben Acohido, Hawaii VFW state commander. “It was a real honor.”

Acohido is also a chaplain and presided at the ceremony for Shumard.

Bill Sisco, commander of VFW Post 8956 in Ocean Shores, Wash., helped coordinate the event and was there for the ceremony.

“This has never happened before and couldn’t have happened without Ben stepping up,” he said. “The VFW has never been involved in bringing a veteran back to Pearl Harbor.”

Sisco knew Leo Shumard and described him as “100 percent Navy all the way.”

“He loved talking about the Navy and his wartime experiences,” Sisco said. “Nobody disliked Leo. He was always smiling, upbeat and happy.”

None of Shumard’s relatives could attend the ash scattering, but flowers for the ceremony were provided by a niece, Irene Shumard Trovato. Members of Hawaii’s VFW were in attendance along with a few visitors to the USS Utah Memorial who were invited by Taylor to view the ceremony.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” said John Mallon, a visitor who surprisingly found himself witnessing a ceremony few get to see.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” said Mallon, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Army. “None of Leo’s family could be here, so maybe we were meant to be here,” he said.

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Category: News