Home News Johnson City Press, Family Welcomes 80-Year-Old Sailor Home

Johnson City Press, Family Welcomes 80-Year-Old Sailor Home

Johnson City Press, Family Welcomes 80-Year-Old Sailor Home

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Johnson City Press, Family Welcomes 80-Year-Old Sailor Home

Welcoming Sailor Home

Returning Home Nearly 81 Years Later

He was a brand-new sailor in the U.S. Navy in 1940, having just finished boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia.

He stopped in Johnson City to see his parents, friends, and family before continuing on to California for joining the ship to which he assigns, the USS Oklahoma.

When Saylor was 21, just over a year after his visit, the Oklahoma was moored at Ford Island in berth Fox 5 on Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941.

The ship attack by planes from the Japanese navy’s aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga.

Saylor’s mother, father, brothers, and friends will never saw him again.

Incident In Past, Johnson City Press

Many of bodies of the young men dies on the Oklahoma that morning, including Saylor’s, were recovered, but the majority of them could not be identified.

Those men have now been identified, thanks to decades of scientific advances in genetic research, and Fireman First Class Paul E.

Saylor will be taken from an unmarked grave to be buried with his mother and father at the Happy Valley Cemetery.

A later generation of his family, whom Saylor never met, will also attend the ceremony on Aug. 20.

They’ve travelled from all over the country to pay their respects and mourn for a man they’d heard of but never met. Susan Saylor, Paul’s niece, will among the present.

Susan Saylor says her family move away from Johnson City when she was a child, but she and her family returned frequently for reunions with her grandparents and other family members.

Letters ( A Note Of Love), Johnson City Press

She said they didn’t talk much about Paul at the reunions, but she learned a lot about him from the many letters he writing to his home to his family during his year in the Navy.

All of the letters save in a shoe box that the family had lovingly kept and that Susan would spend time reading on her trips to Johnson City during the holidays.

She learned about the young man’s admirable character, how hard he worked, how smart he was, and how generous he was from his letters.

Paul Saylor was the son of the Rev. Samuel and Mary Saylor of Bluff City. During Samuel’s ministry, the family moved around the region, living in places like Carter County, Samuel Saylor’s native Mitchell County, North Carolina, before settle in Johnson City.

According to Susan Saylor, her grandfather, Samuel, was a “self-ordained Free Will Baptist minister.” Paul, she said, had three brothers.

There was Lenard, who was born in 1914 but died at the age of 12 in 1926. Arthur, the other older brother, was born in 1916. Then there was George, the younger brother, born in 1924.

What Written In Letters

Raising a family during the Great Depression is the most likely a struggle for a Free Will Baptist minister. In the letters Susan read, Paul Saylor clearly demonstrated his understanding of Susan’s financial burden.

Despite the fact that lower enlisted men were paid very little in the early 1940s, Susan claimed Paul was sending money home to his parents. She claimed the letters also revealed his ambition and sense of responsibility.

He realised early on that if you studied hard and passed exams, you could get promoted,” Susan explained.

Despite the fact that he only in the Navy for a little more than a year when he was killed, he was quickly promoted and was a Navy fireman, first class, when he died.

She claimed the letters also demonstrated his ability to resist temptation. He allegedly told her about some money he had lost in a card game and how he vowed he would never be so foolish again.

The official Navy account of the last hours of so many men on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, is one of shock and surprise.

As torpedoes slams into her hull and Japanese planes straf her crew. Men rush to the anti-aircraft guns, only for discover that the firing locks were still in the armoury that Sunday morning.

The majority of the men station at battle stations below the waterline.

Incident In Boat

Two more torpedoes slam into the ship as it began to capsize. She roll over in less than 12 minutes, coming to a halt when her masts touch the bottom.

Her starboard side above water, and part of her keel exposed. It is believed that the ship took up to eight hits.

Many of her crew members jumped 50 feet from the decks into the oil-covered, boiling hot water. Many others trap within the capsized hull, including Paul.

Efforts to save them starts immediately after the ship capsize and continue well into the night. When no more knocks heard inside the hull after three days. The rescue efforts calls off and the recovery efforts starts.

In total, 429 men reports missing in action/unknowns. Navy personnel recover the remains of the decease crew from December 1941 to June 1944.

They lay to rest in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries.


In an effort for identifying these Pearl Harbor victims. The American Graves Registration Service disinter the remains from the two cemeteries in September 1947. At this time, only 35 men from Oklahoma identify. The rest rebury at Honolulu’s Punchbowl.

It wasn’t until 2015 that scientific advances enabled the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to identify the sailors from the Oklahoma.

Scientists from the agency used anthropological analysis to identify Saylor’s remains. Furthermore, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System examined mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA.

Saylor’s name lists on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl. Alongside the names of others who went missing during WWII.

To show that he find, a rosette will place next to his name.

On December 7, 1941, two other Tri-Cities sailors boarded the Oklahoma. They were Elizabethton’s Navy Seaman Second Class William Vane Campbell and Bristol’s Fireman Third Class Warren Harding Crim.

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