EAST LYME, Conn. — Floyd Welch, who was credited with saving lives during the battle of Pearl Harbor, has died in Connecticut. He was 99.
Welch died peacefully at his home in East Lyme on Monday, said his family.
Welch, who was born in February 1921 in Burlington, was serving aboard the USS Maryland on Dec. 7, 1941, when the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor came under attack by Japan.
He helped cut holes in the overturned USS Oklahoma to rescue trapped sailors. He served six years in the Navy, earning numerous medals and was a guest of honor at the 2016 ceremony in Hawaii that marked the battle's 75th anniversary.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released a statement following Welch's passing:
“Floyd Welch was an American hero, a member of our Greatest Generation, and I am proud to have called him a friend. Over the years, he shared with many of us the horrors of that day of infamy, the sights and sounds that no one should have to experience, in the hopes that future generations would choose peace over war. I always valued the time I spent with Floyd, his love of country, and dedication to service is an example for all Americans to follow. Today, we mourn his loss, but we are forever indebted to his bravery. I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends. Fair winds and calm seas my friend.”
Welch was honored at the dedication of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Park in New Haven on December 6th, 2018.
"Sunday, as an electrician, I set up the church services on the quarter-deck," said Welch.
He had just come out of the shower when what turned out to be the wrong notification was sounded by bugle.
"We asked one another why are we having practice on Sunday morning," said Welch. "We heard all of this noise above, but nobody told us it was the Japanese."
But, within about 15 minutes they knew it was no practice.
The USS Maryland was among the first to get hit. Welch, who was 19 at the time, said he still thought about the Pearl Harbor attacks every day.
"It didn’t take long for a huge dark cloud to form," said Welch. "You could hardly see from one ship to the other."
He was presented with the Connecticut Veterans War Time Service Medal at that dedication.