PEARL HARBOR -- The ashes of Gale Mohlenbrink, a survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, were scattered in the waters by his family near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during a ceremony Oct. 29.
He wished to be returned to Pearl Harbor, a place he always called paradise, to be reunited with his shipmates killed on that historic day.
"Today we return a shipmate back to his brothers in arms at this most hallowed spot," said Capt. Lawrence Scruggs, deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.
Among those in attendance were Mohlenbrink's wife, Onah, and daughters Shiela and Corinne. Several Pearl Harbor Sailors were also on hand to pay respects to one of their own. Chaplain Lt. Rick Tiff, Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel, presided over the services.
Military honors included a gun salute and the presentation of the burial flag to the family by the Honors and Ceremonies, Joint Base Color Guard.
Following the speeches by Scruggs and Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, the family gathered on the walkway of the Utah Memorial where Mohlenbrink's wife and daughter scattered his ashes into the water.
"It really gave me a sense of closure," said Onah. "He didn't really like to talk about what happened but he came back to visit many times. It was important to him and he always called this place paradise."
"Gale Mohlenbrink was born in February of 1924 and joined the Navy at the tender age of 17. Needless to say, he witnessed the horrific attack at a very young age," said Taylor.
Mohlenbrink was stationed to the heavy cruiser USS Northampton (CA 26), which was out to sea at the time of the attack. However, Mohlenbrink was assigned to work ashore on the Captain's Gig and witnessed the attack unfold on Pearl Harbor.
"He had been assigned the highly impressive job of assisting in the overhaul and restoration of the Captains Gig," said Scruggs. "A job entrusted to only the best Sailors, those who could be counted on to come to work early and stay late, the best of the best."
After the attack Mohlenbrink worked to rescue his shipmates and went on patrol in the Hawaiian waters searching for the Japanese Battle Fleet. Heavily outnumbered after the attack, it was considered a potential suicide mission and yet he performed his duties with honor.
Mohlenbrink went on to serve his country with honor aboard USS Northampton in the Doolittle Raid, Battle of Midway and Battle of Guadalcanal earning six battle stars before the Northampton sunk in the battle of Tassafaronga. He survived her sinking, floating in shark infested waters until a Navy destroyer rescued him and fellow shipmates.
He later served combat duty on destroyer USS Edison (DD 439), fighting across the globe, before returning to Pearl Harbor in support of the final battles with Japan. He served throughout World War II in Pearl Harbor.
Gale Mohlenbrink passed away July 7th, 2013 of natural causes. With assistance from his family and the United States Navy, his final wish to return to the place he called paradise has come true.