I never knew Henry Lloyd Lee, but each year on December 7, I think of him. He and I grew up in rural Conway communities that are close to each other — but at different times.
He was born in 1921, and in 1939, he joined the U.S. Navy. His family members have said that he enlisted to help support his widowed mother and younger siblings.
About three months after his 20th birthday, the Japanese attacked military installations on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. He was on the USS Arizona docked at Pearl Harbor. He went down with the sunken battleship to rest forever with 1,176 of his shipmates.
On December 7, 2015, as I looked at old newspapers and thought about that day in 1941, I was reminded of how different most everything was back then.
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Locally, on that Sunday afternoon in 1941, many people were listening to their radios and heard about the attack. At a time when there was so little of today’s technology, families could not check for news on their computers, sit around anxiously watching the attack or its aftermath on television, or pick up a phone to call and check on their loved ones there. They listened to the radio, read newspapers, and waited.
On Christmas Day, 18 days after the attack, a headline in a Conway newspaper read, “Henry Lloyd Lee Reported Missing.”
The article states that he is “reported missing, therefore, very likely died in the Pearl Harbor attack on Sunday, December 7. His relatives here knew that he was assigned to the battleship Arizona. He had been two years in the Navy. His mother is Mrs. John F. Lee of the R.F.D. No. 1, Conway. He had eight sisters and three brothers. He is brother of Miss Glenn Lee, now associated with the hospital in Bennettsville, formerly with the Conway Hospital.”
Several members of the Lee family were among those who enlisted to avenge the attack that took the lives of 2,335 military personnel and 68 civilians. Of the dead, 2,008 were from the Navy.
Sometime in March, more than three months after he went down to remain a part of history at the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Seaman Henry Lloyd Lee’s mother, Aggie Lee, received the last bundle of letters he had mailed to her.
His name is on a monument in Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery, but he is considered buried at sea.
Seaman Henry Lloyd Lee, who worked in the ship’s engine room, was the first Horry County man to die in World War II. He died on a peaceful Sunday morning when we were not at war.
I hope we will remember him and all the others who died, were injured or survived that day in 1941, and that Americans will never forget how a beautiful Sunday morning became a “date which will live in infamy.”
For much more about the attacks, the ships, the horrific events and the heroes of that day, to read the stories of survivors, comment or add stories to them, visit https://pearlharboroahu.com.
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.