Soldier with local ties laid to rest

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A soldier with Atmore ties that was killed during the Pearl Harbor attacks in World War II was laid to rest on Jan. 6 in Pensacola, Fla.

0111-sollie-mug-4-webNavy Water Tender 1st Class Walter H. Sollie, 37 at the time of the attacks, was interred with full military honors at Barrancas National Cemetery onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Sollie was assigned to the U.S.S. Oklahoma, a ship that was moored at Ford Island, at Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft, according to a Naval Air Station press release.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The U.S.S. Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to capsize. The attack on the ship caused the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Sollie. No other vessel at Pearl Harbor, except the U.S.S. Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the crew. The remains of the crew were interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Sollie.

In April 2015, the deputy secretary of defense issued a policy memorandum to direct the disinterment of unknowns associated with the U.S.S. Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.

To identify Sollie’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two great nieces, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Sollie’s records.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,104 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.

Sollie and family moved to Atmore prior to him joining the Navy in 1930.

He is survived by five nieces, Jean Bodiford of Greenville; Carol West of Chuchula; Iris (Bruce) Plowman of Kewanna, Ind.; Betty (Tom) Turnipseed of Milton, Fla.; and Cindy (Frank) Mayes of New Orleans, La.; and two nephews, Clifford (Betty) Allen of Mobile and Fred (Liz) Sollie Jr. of Clermont Fla. He is also survived by 12 great-nieces and nephews; and their children. He was preceded in death by his father; his sister, Nina Mae Cobb; and his son, Walter Carlyle Sollie.