Ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor, wife scattered at USS Utah

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard participates in the ash scattering ceremony of Pearl Harbor survivor Earl Selover at the USS Utah Memorial.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard participates in the ash scattering ceremony of Pearl Harbor survivor Earl Selover at the USS Utah Memorial.

Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

The ashes of Chief Radioman Earl Selover, a survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, along with those of his wife Ella Mae, were scattered in the waters near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island during a ceremony held May 22.

Among those in attendance was Selover’s son, Earl Jr. Several Pearl Harbor chief petty officers were also on hand to pay respects to one of their own. Chaplain Lt. James Ragain, Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, presided over the services.

Earl Sr. was born March 18, 1917 in New Jersey. By the time he was 11, he knew he wanted to be a Sailor in the U.S. Navy, and he enlisted just four days after he graduated from high school. Already a licensed ham radio operator, Selover became a Navy radioman, a position in which he thrived.

“A hard charger from the get-go, he was able to become a chief radioman at the age of 23, unheard of in today’s Navy,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony.

Selover eventually served as flag chief radioman on the USS Maryland which was homeported at Pearl Harbor.

“Life was good for Earl,” said Taylor. “He was living in an apartment with his wife, Ella Mae, in Waikiki.”

Selover was on liberty on Dec. 7, 1941 and was asleep in his apartment when the attack began. When he heard on the radio what was going on, he dressed and immediately caught a cab to Pearl Harbor, arriving at the same time as the second wave of Japanese aircraft.

A member of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard presents a ceremonial flag to Earl Selover Jr. the son of, retired Chief Petty Officer Earl Selover following an ash scattering ceremony at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island. Chief Selover's remains joined the remains of more than 50 Sailors still aboard the wreckage of the USS. U.S. Navy photos by MC2 Tiarra Fulgham

A member of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard presents a ceremonial flag to Earl Selover Jr. the son of, retired Chief Petty Officer Earl Selover following an ash scattering ceremony at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island. Chief Selover’s remains joined the remains of more than 50 Sailors still aboard the wreckage of the USS. U.S. Navy photos by MC2 Tiarra Fulgham

Despite the chaos, Selover struggled to make it to his battle station aboard the Maryland. He first boarded the USS California, which was moored nearby, and then crossed a narrow pipe to finally make it to his ship. He then ran to his battle station in the radio shack where he spent the remainder of the day and that night.

After Pearl Harbor, Selover participated in 10 major naval engagements before being transferred to shore duty in September 1944. He left the Navy in 1954 and then worked as a quality control manager at a Navy electronics overhaul facility in Norfolk, Va. until his retirement in 1979. Yet his time in service and his experiences on Dec. 7 were never far from his mind.

“For over 20 years, he enjoyed presenting programs about his Pearl Harbor experience to church, school, civic, library, veterans groups and hospitals,” said Taylor.

“My father wore his USS Maryland hat every time he could,” said Earl Sr.’s son, Earl Jr., a Navy veteran with 28 years of service. “Even if it was 80 or 90 degrees out, he still wore his Pearl Harbor survivor’s jacket.”

Earl Sr. died on Oct. 24, 2007. Even in his final days, his Navy experiences remained important to him.

“Pearl Harbor was the defining moment of his life,” said Earl Jr. “The last week of his life, he was still talking about it like it was yesterday.”

Earl Selover Jr. said that, though it was hard to say goodbye to his father, he and his family were very impressed by the memorial service.

“These people are awesome. The Sailors were outstanding,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

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Category: News