Guard honors Pearl survivor

| April 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
William Mueller, in this recent photo, seems to salute as his family scatters  the late Pearl Harbor survivor's ashes at the USS Utah Memorial, April 9.

William Mueller, in this recent photo, seems to salute as his family scatters the late Pearl Harbor survivor’s ashes at the USS Utah Memorial, April 9.

Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew L. Jackson
Hawaii National Guard Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR — On Dec. 7, 1941, Pfc. Bill Mueller, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, was just a few days away from what would’ve been his final day in the Army.

That morning, Mueller was slated to have a check ride for his private pilot’s license at Hickam Army Airfield.

That all changed, as his flight instructor was gunned down in front of him.

Instead of leaving the Army, the surprise attack compelled Mueller to volunteer for intensive combat training. Mueller spent the most of his career fighting in Papua New Guinea, eventually ending his military career in 1945, after a stint as training cadre at Camp Croft, S.C.

Mueller died Dec. 23, 2012, and his final wish was to rest with those who were lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“He was an eyewitness to major destruction to aircraft and hangars at Hickam, and the terrifying scene of Navy ships blown up, bombs falling everywhere and the strafing by the fighter planes with their machine guns,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivors’ liaison. “Bill was a very lucky man to survive not just the attack on Pearl Harbor, but throughout the entire war. He was and still is an American hero.”

An honor guard from the Hawaii National Guard paid respects to Mueller at the USS Utah Memorial, Ford Island, on a breezy, spring day. The rifle team stood watch until the arrival of Mueller’s family.

“This is the third one of these we have performed this year,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Raymond Kitagawa, Hawaii National Guard. “It is always an honor.”

Once the family arrived, Taylor delivered an account of Mueller’s life, and Kitagawa read from the 23rd Psalm.

The honor guard fired a salute, the memorial colors were unfurled and Taps was played. The flag was folded and presented to the family.

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Mueller’s ashes were scattered in Pearl Harbor, adjacent to the wreckage of the USS Utah, so he could join those lost that day so many years ago.

Final Resting Place

American service members on the island of Oahu when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, have the right to join their fellow service members, lost on that day, in their final rest in Pearl Harbor. Many survivors, mostly from the Navy, make this choice.

 

 

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