Connecticut's last known Pearl Harbor survivor dies at 99

Elizabeth Howe
August 26, 2020 - 10:58 am
Floyd Welch

US Navy

Floyd Welch, Connecticut's last known Pearl Harbor survivor, died at 99 on Monday. 

Welch was 20 years old, stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941 when the Japanese attacked. For at least 15 minutes, he thought it was a drill, Welch said at a 2017 Pearl Harbor anniversary event. Welch would later that day save the lives of more than 30 fellow sailors, pulling them from the water and using blueprints of the vessel to cut through the hull to reach trapped sailors. 

“So many left our world at once,” Welch told the Hartford Courant in 2018. “The next day I really saw and heard the tremendous amount of casualties. It didn’t really have to happen if we’d been on our toes.”

More than 2,400 U.S. service members died in the attacks on Pearl Harbor. 

Floyd served on the USS Maryland for the entire war. His awards included the American Defense Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and the United States Navy Constitution Medal.

After leaving the Navy in January 1946, Welch returned to Connecticut where he would eventually settle on a farm in East Lyme raising Guernsey cows, according to the Hartford Courant.

“His was just a remarkable story of bravery, discipline, and dedication,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. “He lived the word ‘hero’ in his actions, not just words, and gave it real meaning. He was a hero, not just in his dedication and bravery, but also in the result of his actions, which was to save lives.”

Welch died peacefully at his home in East Lyme on Monday, his family told the Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, six children, 13 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

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Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.

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