Atmore Sailor Who Died In Pearl Harbor Attack Laid To Rest In Pensacola
January 7, 2017
A World War II sailor from Atmore that was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago was laid to rest Friday with full military honors in Pensacola.
Navy Water Tender 1st Class Walter H. Sollie was 37-years old on December 7, 1941. He was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.
The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Sollie. No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time.
The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Sollie.
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
To identify Sollie’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two great nieces, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Sollie’s records.
On November 23, 1904, Sollie was the first born child of Frederick Ernest and Florence Vallie McCrary in Myrtlewood, AL. The family lived in the Myrtlewood area until they moved to Atmore in the late 1920’s.
Pictured top: Walter Sollie, who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, is laid to final rest Friday at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge. Pictured inset and below: Sollie as seen during his time of service. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.