Services for Pearl Harbor casualty to be held Friday

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The USS Oklahoma was among the Navy vessels sunk at Pearl Harbor. On board was Water Tender 1st Class Walter Henry Sollie of Myrtlewood, pictured on the right. His remains were identified in 2016. An interment service will be held in Pensacola on Friday, Jan. 6.

The USS Oklahoma was among the Navy vessels sunk at Pearl Harbor. On board was Water Tender 1st Class Walter Henry Sollie of Myrtlewood, pictured on the right. His remains were identified in 2016. An interment service will be held in Pensacola on Friday, Jan. 6.

An interment service for a Marengo County sailor killed at Pearl Harbor and whose remains were recently identified will be held Friday at Barrancas National Cemetery, located on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.
On Dec. 7, 1941, two brothers from the Myrtlewood Community of Marengo County were aboard different ships at Pearl Harbor. Fred Everett Sollie, 23, was aboard the USS Schley. His older brother, Walter Henry Sollie, 37, was aboard the USS Oklahoma.
At 7:50 a.m., the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. Fred had just begun his watch and was topside and Walter had just ended his watch and was below deck. The battleships and the aircraft carriers in the harbor were the primary targets of the Japanese. Across the harbor about a mile away on the Schley, Fred watched as ship after ship were strafed by machine gun fire, bombed or hit with torpedoes from the airplanes. Then the Oklahoma was hit. The ship was damaged so badly that it eventually capsized. Many of the crew perished due to the explosions or were trapped below deck and could not escape. Over 400 members of the crew were killed. Many would remain unidentified for nearly 75 years, including Walter. In 2015, through modern forensic identification capabilities, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began exhuming the remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. An official news release in August announced that remains had been identified as those of Walter Henry Sollie.
On Friday, Jan. 6, Water Tender First Class Sollie will be interned at the Barrancas National Cemetery, where he will be reunited with his brother, Fred, who died in 1999 at the age of 81. Fred continued his military service and retired as a Chief Petty Officer after 22 years of service.
AT 10:30 a.m., Walter’s procession will depart Oak Lawn Funeral Home for the Main Post Chapel at NAS Pensacola. Leading the way will be an escort of the Patriot Riders motorcycle group. A flag line along the way will also be displayed. The memorial service at the post chapel will begin at 11 a.m. A procession will depart at approximately noon for the Barrancas National Cemetery. Committal services are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. with full military honors. The State of Alabama will honor Walter’s service and sacrifice with many presentations from both the governor’s office and the military department.
At 3 p.m., the Sollie family will be at the Cubi Bar at the NAS Museum to meet and thank those who helped bring Walter home and honored him.
Lee Belcher, Commander of Marengo Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5377, is working to encourage a Marengo County delegation to be present at the service to honor the county’s native son.
“My wife and I will be representing our post and auxiliary to honor a local hero,” Belcher said. “He gave his life during our first battle of World War II with the Japanese. It took 75 years to bring him home. We should be able to give him back on day of our time.”

(This story originally appeared in the Wednesday, Jan. 4, edition of the Demopolis Times.)