Ardmore – Graveside Services for Seaman First Class Billy Turner, US Navy, 20 of Ardmore is scheduled for 2:00 P.M., Saturday June 4, 2022 at the Oklahoma State Veterans Cemetery of Ardmore as the first veteran interred within. Pastor Robert Peterson will be officiating with Admiral Wesley Hull providing the eulogy. Services are under the care and direction of Alexander Gray Funeral Home of Wilson. Billy was born November 18, 1921 at Memphis, Tennessee to Mr. John Marshall “J.M.” Turner and Mrs. Ona Mae (McFadden) Turner. In 1926 the family moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma. He departed from this life on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu stationed upon the USS Oklahoma.
Billy was inducted into the U. S. Navy at Dallas, TX on January 4, 1940 and was sent to San Diego, CA for his boot training. He was assigned on March 29, 1940 to the USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37),a Nevada-class battleship built for the U. S. Navy in the 1910s.
When the Japanese descended on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, Zeros were sweeping in from three directions, torpedo bombers were releasing their lethal charges against the Navy’s big battleships on “Battleship Row”. Almost immediately, the USS OKLAHOMA began taking deadly hits. The mighty battleship shook violently as torpedoes slammed into her hull, ripping metal as if it were tinfoil. Water rushed through the gaping wounds in her sides and oil spread outward on the surface of the harbor. Bombs continued to fall, striking the other big ships moored beside the OKLAHOMA. The oil on the surface of the water ignited to send towering pillars of smoke into the blue morning skies.
The OKLAHOMA never had a chance, three torpedoes crashing through its sides in the first minutes of the attack. With seawater pouring in, the ship lurched to its side, tossing helpless sailors around in the darkness below. As many as a dozen torpedoes may have hit the OKLAHOMA in the first ten minutes of the attack before the order was given to abandon ship. As the USS OKLAHOMA rolled slowly to its side, terror reigned below deck. In darkness men sought to find a way out of the burning, metal coffin.
The battle in the sky was barely ten minutes old when the OKLAHOMA finally “gave-up-the-ghost”, rolling completely over. Trapped inside were 429 Sailors and Marines, men who would never again see the light of day.
Billy Turner was one of the over 429 missing in action. Billy was the first casualty of WW II from Ardmore, Oklahoma. Turner street in Ardmore is named in his honor. The historic mural on the Ardmoreite building in Ardmore depicts the USS OKLAHOMA in memory of Billy Turner.
The co-mingled remains of the almost 400 sailors and marines were interred at the Honolulu Memorial Cemetery “Punchbowl”. His name is on the Tablets of the Missing at the Cemetery. On October 8, 2021 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Navy Seaman 1st Class Billy Turner, 20, was accounted for on October 1, 2021 through extensive DNA analysis.
Billy’s closest relatives are nephew, John William “Bill” Crowell and his wife Darlene; niece, Audrey Crowell; great nephews, Rick Crowell and wife Taylor and Rodney Crowell and wife Sarah; and numerous other family.
Billy’s father, mother and sister Zealon survived him at the time of his death but are now deceased and buried in Ardmore, OK.
In honor of his sister, Zealon, in lieu of flowers donations are to be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478 Oklahoma City, OK 73123 in loving memory of Billy Turner.
Memories may be shared online at http://www.alexanderfuneralhome.org.