Honoring A Shipmate

Story and photos by Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

The ashes of Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Stanley “Lucky” Stahowick, 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 12.

Stahowick was born Feb. 11, 1919 in Des Moines, Iowa. Shortly after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Navy, on Dec. 7, 1937. He was assigned to the USS West Virginia, boarding the battleship in April 1938. Three-and-a-half years later, he was still assigned to the ship when it was bombed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of the attack, Stahowick was in his dress whites, preparing to go home on leave. He was standing near the ship’s bugler when the bombs started to fall. Both were blown across the deck by the blast.

Stahowick managed to reach his battle station on the bridge where he found his commanding officer, Capt. Mervyn Bennion, who was seriously injured. Stahowick rendered aid, literally holding Bennion’s flesh together so the captain could pass orders to the ship personnel. Bennion eventually died from his wounds and posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

Later, as the ship was sinking, Stahowick helped to pull survivors out of the water. One of those he pulled out of the water was his best friend. He was so covered with oil that at first Stahowick didn’t even recognize him. By the evening, Stahowick was manning a .50-caliber machine gun in his underwear with orders to “shoot anything that moved.”

Stahowick served throughout World War II and retired from the Navy in May 1975 after more than 30 years of service. He went on to work as a custodial engineer in the Des Moines Public School System. Stahowick was a member of the Fleet Reserve Association, American Veterans Association, and Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association.

Stanley “Lucky” Stahowick died in his hometown of Des Moines on Nov. 18, 2003.

“It was Lucky’s desire to return to Pearl Harbor when he died to have his ashes scattered here so he could be with his brothers who were lost that fateful day,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony. “It was also the wish of his children Tom and Nancy. Today, thanks to them and the United States Navy, Lucky’s wish will come true.”

“Boatswain Stahowick stood his watch as the West Virginia sank and settled on the harbor’s muddy bottom,” said Capt. Larry Scruggs, deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, who also spoke at the ceremony.

“He would have said he wasn’t a hero. I stand here today as a proud member of the world’s greatest Navy to say, ‘Boatswain, you are a hero, and we have the watch.'”

Lt. Rick Tiff, Chaplain Corps, Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, presided over the service. He described Stahowick as a “shepherd who led his flock and served his country in a time of need.”

Stahowick’s son Tom was in attendance at the ceremony, along with his wife, Anita. They were not in Hawaii only for the service. The trip was part of their honeymoon as well.

“My dad always talked about Pearl Harbor and how he loved it and loved the Navy,” said Tom Stahowick. “It was a wonderful ceremony, and I want to thank the U.S. Navy for doing it right.”

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Category: Life & Leisure