The remains of United States Navy sailor Hale McKissack are coming home 77 years after he was killed at Pearl Harbor in the Japanese surprise attack on December 7th, 1941. McKissack will be laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Winters on May 4th at 2 p.m.
McKissack was aboard the battleship, USS Oklahoma, when the Japanese launched their attacks at approximately 7:48 a.m., Hawaiian time. The battleship was moored at berth 5 at Pearl Harbor’s famous “Battleship Row” when the Japanese struck with almost 400 aircraft. The battleship was berthed on the outside berth of the battleship, USS Maryland.
According to Wikipedia, The Oklahoma was struck at 7:56 a.m. by three torpedoes from aircraft that had launched from the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. The first two torpedoes hit within seconds of each other and struck the vessel amidships between the smokestack and mainmast and 20’ below the waterline. The torpedoes struck and blew away a large section of the anti-torpedo bulge and even though oil spilled from bunkers around the location of the torpedo strikes, neither torpedo penetrated the hull.
A third torpedo struck the ship at 8:00 a.m. and did penetrate the hull. It destroyed the adjacent fuel bunkers on the second platform deck, rupturing access trunks to the two forward boiler rooms as well as the transverse bulkhead to the aft boiler room and the longitudinal bulkhead of the two forward firing rooms.
The ship was struck by 2 more torpedoes as she began to capsize to port. In addition to the torpedo strikes the sailors were also strafed by Japanese aircraft as they manned their battle stations or fought the intense flames that were hot enough to melt and buckle decks. It is unclear at what point McKissack was killed during the fight but the one thing is clear; McKissack and the other sailors fought with courage and dignity. Many of them manned anti-aircraft guns, fought the raging inferno, rescued injured crewmates or worked on damage control until the very end, when the ship eventually capsized.
In all, 429 officers and enlisted were killed from the Oklahoma were killed or listed as missing.
McKissack’s remains will arrive at the Dallas airport at 3:30 pm on Friday, May 3rd. The funeral is gravesite only at Fairview Cemetery in Winters at 2pm on Sat, May 4th. The Patriot Guard will escort his remains from Lange Funeral Home in Ballinger to the cemetery. The funeral escort will begin at approximately 1 p.m.
The public is invited to line the streets of Ballinger and Winters in honor of McKissack. Ballinger city manager Tommy Turney has ordered a couple of cases of flags to hand out to members of the public who wish to come out to the procession. Sandra Van Zant, the Runnels County Veterans Service Officer, has been the point-of-contact locally and can be contacted at 325-365-3612 if you have any questions.