World War II sailor, killed at Pearl Harbor, to be buried today

By The Active Age | May 2, 2023

DOUGLASS — A U.S. Navy sailor from Mulvane who was killed in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor will be buried with full military graveside honors here Tuesday.

Seaman 2nd Class Floyd Clifford was 20 years old at the time of his death on the USS Oklahoma. He was born in Douglass, grew up in Mulvane and enlisted in Kansas City. As a Seaman 2nd Class, Clifford would have been training in and assigned to duties including signaling, standing watch and gunnery.

He has been awarded the World War II Victory Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and other commendations.

According to a news release from the Navy, the USS Oklahoma was among almost half the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Naval Base Pearl Harbor on the Sunday morning they were attacked by air forces of the Japanese Empire. The ship was supposed to be out to sea patrolling the Hawaiian Islands, but along with eight other battleships it was at Pearl Harbor expecting an admiral’s inspection the next day.

Moored in Battleship Row beside the USS Maryland, the Oklahoma was among the first vessels hit. The ship was struck by three aerial torpedoes at approximately 7:55 a.m., then began capsizing as Japanese planes strafed the deck with machine gun fire. Six more torpedoes struck the ship, tearing open its port side and causing it roll completely over within 15 minutes of the first torpedo strike.

Many crew members were sleeping below deck and never made it to the main deck. Men trapped inside banged on the bulkhead to get the attention of rescuers. On Dec. 8 and 9, holes were cut in the exposed bottom of the ship and 32 men were pulled out alive. The banging continued through Dec. 10, but nothing could be done for the sailors trapped below the water line.

Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines on the Oklahoma perished. Of these, 388 remained unidentified for decades, eventually being buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as “Punchbowl.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense began disinterring the remains in an effort to identify the sailors and return them to their families. Since then, 356 have been identified through DNA sampling that looked for matches with surviving family members.

Clifford’s family now lives in Tennessee.

The USS Oklahoma, after being salvaged and sold, sunk while being towed to California in 1947. Its anchor is displayed in downtown Oklahoma City, inscribed on its base: Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.”