An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

A Quiet Ceremony for a Quiet Warrior

06 February 2024

From Jim Neuman, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Early in 2024, an ash scattering was held at the USS Utah Memorial, where the family of Chief Machinist Mate John Simms gathered to honor his passing and his legacy as a member of the Greatest Generation.
John Simms was a quiet man from Denville, Kentucky, just outside of Lexington. In 1936 he joined the United States Navy, a decision which would eventually thrust him to the epicenter of the Day of Infamy. As a young Sailor stationed at the naval air station on Ford Island, Simms witnessed firsthand the carnage wrought by the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 as America was plunged into World War II.

His experience was felt so deeply that he never talked about it openly, not even to those closest to him.

“He never talked about the attack, or the war in general,” relates his daughter Shirley Marseilles. “Every year, on Dec. 7 I would take him to the local commemoration of the attack and all of these veterans would stand up and talk about where they were and what they saw as Pearl Harbor survivors, but my father would never say anything. Sometimes he would just get very emotional.”

Several times she asked him to open up on his experiences that day, but he would always respond with “no.” Ms. Marseilles believes that he suffered too much from the painful memories of losing friends and witnessing death and simply did not want to relive that horrible scene.

Though he divulged precious little about his service record, Chief Simms served aboard several ships before and during World War II, including the USS Tracy, USS Nitro and even aboard one of the ships from the iconic Battleship Row, the USS Nevada.

According to the National World War II Museum, only 119,000 of the 16 million veterans who served during World War II remain. That represents less than a percent of the total. One hundred thirty-one veterans, like John Simms pass away each day, and that number will no doubt increase as the years roll on.

Too many, like Chief Simms never relayed their experiences out of trauma or out of sense of feeling that their contributions did not warrant recognition. Thankfully his family was intent on honoring his wishes to have his ashes scattered on Pearl Harbor, where on this day they were mingled with the remains of the 49 crew members of the USS Utah, who remain entombed within her hull.

On Jan. 8, Chief Simms, representing the quiet warriors of the Greatest Generation was laid to rest in the waters of the harbor that serve as a bellwether of the Navy’s legacy of honor, courage and commitment.

Google Translation Disclaimer

  • Google Translate, a third party service provided by Google, performs all translations directly and dynamically.
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, has no control over the features, functions, or performance of the Google Translate service.
  • The automated translations should not be considered exact and should be used only as an approximation of the original English language content.
  • This service is meant solely for the assistance of limited English-speaking users of the website.
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information translated.
  • Some items cannot be translated, including but not limited to image buttons, drop down menus, graphics, photos, or portable document formats (pdfs).
  • Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, does not directly endorse Google Translate or imply that it is the only language translation solution available to users.
  • All site visitors may choose to use similar tools for their translation needs. Any individuals or parties that use Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, content in translated form, whether by Google Translate or by any other translation services, do so at their own risk.
  • IE users: Please note that Google Translate may not render correctly when using Internet Explorer. Users are advised to use MS Edge, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox browser to take full advantage of the Google Translate feature.
  • The official text of content on this site is the English version found on this website. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in translated text, refer to the English version on this website, it is the official version.

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii   |   850 Ticonderoga St   |   Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-5101
Official U.S. Navy Website