A Cleveland area native who was believed to be the only Pearl Harbor survivor to visit the 9/11 memorial site in New York was expected to be laid to rest Sunday in this hometown.
John Seelie died at age 94 last month and was also believed to be the last eyewitness to see the Japanese attack on Wheeler Army Air Field near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“They were 75 feet off the ground. You could see the Japanese pilots’ faces clearly,” he once told an interviewer. “We grabbed our M-1 rifles and our redesigned steel helmets we had just been issued, a couple of .30 caliber machine guns and ran outside … We started firing at the planes. Whether we knocked an enemy plane down, nobody knows.”
The Army soldier fought in battles in Guadalcanal and New Georgia Island in the Pacific, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported. He visited the Ground Zero site New York on Memorial Day in May, according to the Herald-Tribune.
Seelie traveled to Pearl Harbor last year for the final time to participate in the 75th anniversary of memorial services commemorating the historic attack that brought the United States into World War II.
He reportedly died of cancer in a hospice last month in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Funeral services are scheduled for Sunday at the Busch Funeral and Crematory Services Fairview Park, Ohio facility with burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, according to the funeral home.