HARTFORD, Conn. — Floyd Welch who helped free dozens of trapped sailors from the sinking USS Oklahoma during the raid on Pearl Harbor has died.
Welch died peacefully at his home in East Lyme on Monday, his family said. He was 99.
Welch was a 20-year-old electrician’s mate aboard the USS Maryland on Sunday Dec 7, 1941. According to The Hartford Courant, his job that day was to get the public address system ready for church services when the bombing began.
The Oklahoma was tied up next to the Maryland and was hit with at least nine Japanese torpedoes and capsized quickly with sailors trapped below deck.
Welch’s combat duty was damage control and repair, according to the Courant.
With the help of other sailors, Welch helped pull survivors from the ship.
“By using blueprints of the Oklahoma, so as not to burn into a fuel void, we began the long and extremely difficult process of cutting holes through the bottom steel plates of the Oklahoma,” he wrote in a remembrance of the battle. “When we could see the planes coming, we would try to find cover. We would cut near where we heard the trapped crewmen tapping. In all, I believe 33 men from the Oklahoma were rescued through these holes.”
The attack killed more than 2,400 people, including 17 from Connecticut, according to the Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau.
Floyd served on the Maryland for the entire war, earning numerous honors, including the American Defense Service Medal, the World War II 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, Welch worked as an alarm installer, a farmer and a milkman before opening a construction company, Welch & Son, which built road infrastructures, foundations and drainage systems throughout the Northeast.
© 2020 Cox Media Group