U.S. Rep. Ron Barber on Monday will present a Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal to a 91-year-old Tucson veteran who will be the last U.S. Navy veteran ever to receive one of the medals.
Pearl Harbor survivor Clarence W. Ellquist will receive the medal, which no longer is being issued. The medal that will be presented to Ellquist, which was obtained for him by a member of Barber’s staff, is the last one the Navy has to distribute. Ellquist also will be presented with eight other medals to which he was entitled but never received.
“It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to honor a World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor whose bravery has been overlooked for more than 71 years,” Barber said today. “Mr. Ellquist’s heroism on that famous ‘day of infamy’ is no less impressive today than it was on Dec. 7, 1941.”
In 1941, Ellquist was a 19-year-old Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class assigned to the USS Preble, a destroyer that was being overhauled at Pearl Harbor. When Japanese airplanes attacked the American fleet, Ellquist witnessed the attack from the shore.
Ellquist volunteered to help fight fires on ships that had been attacked and to reload weapons on ships that were not damaged. Ellquist said he witnessed the sinking of five battleships, including the USS Arizona.
After Pearl Harbor, he served in the Pacific throughout the war.
In 1990, Congress authorized the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Medal, also known as the Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Medal. To be eligible for the medal, a person must have been “a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who was present in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, and who participated in combat operations that day.”
A limited number of medals were produced for those who were certified as eligible by their branch of service. When Ellquist asked Barber’s staff for help in obtaining one of the medals, the Navy said the one Ellquist will receive is the last medal it has to award to a Navy veteran.
Barber’s staff also determined that Ellquist was entitled to eight other military awards that he never received. So on Monday, Barber also will present Ellquist with:
· Combat Action Ribbon
· Navy Good Conduct Medal
· China Service Medal
· American Defense Service Medal with fleet clasp
· American Campaign Medal
· World War II Victory Medal
· Navy Discharge Button
· Honorable Service Lapel Pin (Rupture Duck)
Obtaining medals that were overlooked is among the services provided by constituent services representatives in Barber’s office.
Barber’s constituent services representatives can help Southern Arizonans with a wide variety of issues.
Many requests for help come from veterans and active-duty military, seniors with issues related to Social Security and Medicare benefits and families struggling to make ends meet. There also are numerous requests for assistance with passports, visas and foreign travel problems.
Some issues can be resolved relatively quickly. But others, depending on the complexity of the issue and the agencies involved, can take months or even years.
Constituent services are available at Barber’s offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Tucson office is at 3945 E. Fort Lowell Road, Suite 211 and can be reached at 520-881-3588. The Sierra Vista office is at 77 Calle Portal, Suite B-160 and can be reached at 520-459-3115.
The names of those who ask Barber’s office for assistance as well as the details of their issue are confidential. But Ellquist gave permission for his name and story to be used to illustrate the type of assistance available to Southern Arizonans though Barber’s office.