PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Rain began to fall as the service honoring Pearl Harbor survivor Jack A. Stoeber commenced.
Sailors and friends gathered at the USS Utah Memorial for an ash scattering ceremony honoring Stoeber at Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec. 1. The memorial service was a time of reflection as Stoeber's ashes were scattered in the waters surrounding the USS Utah Memorial.
Bob Bracci, an honorary member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Vietnam War veteran, and friend to Stoeber, spoke about the history of Stoeber's actions on that fateful day, Dec. 7, 1941.
Stoeber served as a carpenter's mate and was stationed aboard the Dobbin-class destroyer tender USS Whitney (AD 4) during the attacks. He was supposed to be on leave to visit his uncle that day, but his plans changed and he stayed on the ship.
USS Whitney was in the harbor receiving routine maintenance and repairs. Once finished, Whitney would return to the fleet to provide supplies to destroyers at sea.
According to Bracci, as the bullets began to reign down on Pearl Harbor, Stoeber ran to retrieve his ammunition box.
"The weight of the box was almost as much as Stoeber himself," said Bracci. "When he returned to his station, he manned the .50-caliber machine gun, shooting at incoming aircraft. "
Bracci spoke fondly of Stoeber, his brother-in-arms, his long-time friend.
"Jack was like a father to me. He couldn't have been any closer, even if he had been a blood relative," said Bracci. "They didn't make them finer than Jack."
Representing the family members who could not make it to the service, Bracci spoke on behalf of Stoeber's widow, Florence, who said she was proud that the Navy could perform the service for Jack.
"He was honored to serve in the U.S. Navy during the war," said Bracci. "He requested to have his ashes scattered in the waters he served in. This is the final tribute to a great man."
Stoeber received a rifle salute before taps played in honor of his service contribution to his country.
As the service came to an end, so did the rain, marking a final farewell to a loved one, a friend a shipmate.