Memories of Pearl Survivor Live On

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Source: Tulsa, Oklahoma's "Tulsa World", Dec. 8, 1991
by Melanie Busch, World Staff Writer
Contributed by SLC Veteran Charles F. Kepper, AMM1c ball-red-02
Lloyd E. Acree was a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Several days after the attack that killed more than 2,000 US servicemen, he sent a message to his family in Tulsa: "All OK."

Almost a year later, he was killed during a furious night battle with the Japanese near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean on Oct. 12, 1942. He was buried at sea at the age of 22.

Acree, a third-class Navy aviation ordnanceman, was loading a shell into a gun on the USS Salt Lake City, when he was struck in the abdomen by enemy shell fragments. He held on to his shell to keep it from rolling aboard deck and harming his shipmates.

Acree's memory lives on aboard a destroyer escort named in his honor, in the fading yellow pages of a scrapbook kept in his sister's cedar chest and in the memories of his family and friends.

Sand Springs resident Deceased I.M. "Red" Puryear, his best friend, was there during the last night of Acree's life.

Before the battle, "He never had a negative attitude," Puryear said. "But that night, he was sitting on top of the hoist loading shells into a 5-inch battery. The first thing he told me, 'I won't make it through the night.'

"I said, 'Lloyd, you've got to be kidding. We're going home.'"

It was the most memorable, terrible event of the war for Puryear, also a Pearl Harbor veteran.

The USS Lloyd E. Acree was launched and commissioned in 1944. She went to duty with the Seventh Fleet during World War II and escorted the troop and supply convoys that were important to the success of the Allied offensive in Luzon, Philippines, in 1945.

The ship later conducted weather patrols off the Philippines and trained and supported the Chinese Nationalists during their struggle with Chinese Communists in 1946.

The Acree was decommissioned on Oct. 10, 1946, and was deactivated in November wen she joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The ship was stricken from the Naval Register on Jan. 15, 1972.

"It's safe to say, but I cannot confirm without a doubt, that the ship was sold for scrap metal," said Lt. Mark Walker, a Navy spokesman in Washington, DC

Acree's sister, Betty "Corky" Hunt, said having a ship named after her brother did not ease the grief caused by his death but gave it some dignity.

"It sure made us proud that he died for saving his country and his shipmates," the Tulsa resident said.

Tears still come to her eyes when she remembers the brother who kept her from spankings and rocked her with she was sick.

"I followed him around like he was God," Hunt said. "I followed him on his paper route. I went everywhere with him and his friends."

Hunt, the youngest of 10 children, was 12 when she learned that her brother had been killed.

It was 7 a.m. on a Sunday when the messenger delivered the dreaded letter that read: "The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son...."

"Dad and I were reading the paper. I was reading the comics," Hunt recalled. "There came a knock on the door."

Acree misread the letter and thought his son had only been injured.

"Naturally I hated the Japanese," Hunt said. "But then I realized they were doing what they were told to do like my brother. I'm not bitter anymore."

Tulsan Roy Acree, 67, Lloyd's youngest brother, joined the Navy in 1943. He asked to be stationed aboard the same ship that his brother was killed on, but never was.

"I just wanted to go in the Navy. I guess I just wanted to be on the ship because of the idea that he served on it," Acree said.

He was living at home when Hunt told him their brother had been killed. He was sad and angry at the same time.

"He was my brother and I loved him," Acree said. "Just like any family, we were pretty close. He was outgoing, friendly and was good at sports."

In his last letter home, Acree wrote he was looking forward to coming home: "Some day, when the war is over...."

But for him, the day never came.

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Corky Hunt shows a photo of her late brother,
Lloyd E. Acree, and his medals

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