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Hillery Lee Churchwell
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Birth: Nov. 4, 1919
Leakesville
Greene County
Mississippi, USA
Death: May 13, 1984
Portsmouth
Portsmouth City
Virginia, USA

BMC USN WWII KOREA
Chief Boatswain's Mate
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BMC Hillery Lee Churchwell was tall, athletic and strong, and excelled in sports. He graduated from the Leakesville High School and attended Jones County (MS) Junior College, and was a member of the football and basketball squads, making his letter in both sports. He was known to have good looks and a friendly personality. In the summer after high school, he successfully completed Citizens' Military Training at Fort Barrancas, Florida. Later, he volunteered for military service due to extreme monetary hardships.

Hillery was accepted for enlistment in the United States Navy 17 February 1940, as a Seaman. Immediately after passing his final examination in New Orleans, Louisiana, he was transferred to the U. S. Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, where he trained for eight weeks to prepare for sea duty before being assigned to one of the vessels of the United States fleet. Hillery said that his reason for enlisting in the Navy was to learn the trade while taking advantage of the many benefits offered by naval service.

After navy boot training, he served in the Caribbean Sea area. While serving on the US Navy Gunboat USS Erie (PG-50) beginning June 1940, it was torpedoed in shallow water 12 November 1942 by the German submarine U-163 off Curacao Island. Hillery swam about 300 yards to shore. When he arrived on the shore, someone gave him a corn-cob pipe, and he brought it home with him on his 30-day survivor furlough. Later, in 1951, he told his brother Stacy when they were serving together on the Destroyer, USS E A Greene (DD-711), that the water had been relatively calm that day, and he had seen the torpedo wake as it approached the ship and was able to take evasive action. While serving on the USS Erie, he was initiated into the Kingdom of Neptune, and became a Pollywog. It has been a long naval tradition to initiate Pollywogs into the Kingdom of Neptune -the legendary god of the seas, upon their first crossing of the Equator. He was among the survivors of the USS Erie that were transported back to the United States on the U. S. S. ANTAEUS (AS-21) in Dec 1942. He was among the initial crew complement of the Battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) upon its commissioning in May 1943. While serving on the New Jersey he rose to the rating of Chief Boatswain's Mate, the highest enlisted rating at that time, a rate he held when retiring after 20 years of service. He was very proud to have piped aboard' Admiral Bull' Halsey once aboard the USS New Jersey, which served as the flagship of Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet, from Aug 1944. He subsequently served on the Battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41). Both of these battleships performed extensive service in the South Pacific during WWII. Later service was on Destroyers USS E F Larson (DD-830), and USS E A Greene (DD-711), as well as stints of shore duty in Norfolk, Virginia, Jefferson City , MO (as a Navy recruiter), Pensacola, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, and Key West, Florida. He was consistently assigned as the Chief Master At Arms while serving on these ships, which is roughly equivalent to a Sheriff in civilian life. During WWII, he experienced almost the complete removal of his left ear in a gun turret explosion, which was miraculously re-attached by surgeons. On close examination afterwards, one could observe that his left ear was slightly smaller than his right ear.

His first marriage was to Betty J Mathias of Roaring Springs, Blair County, Pennsylvania, and they had a daughter, Cheryl Lee. They were divorced in 1947. He married second to Guylda Scrivner of Russellville, Missouri, and they had two children, Glenda Faye and Danny Lee. Later, he married third to Mamie Jacklyn Jackson of Portsmouth, Virginia.

He was a risk taker and liked to hunt; he also was an avid reader, quite well-versed, and had read and studied the Bible more than the average person.

A smoker, he died of pneumonia and a blood bacteria infection, with complications of emphysema. The doctors and nurses at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital had become challenged to save him, and their attentive treatment was especially noted by family members. Special permission was sought and received from the Navy's Chief Medical Officer, to administer an experimental drug to kill the blood bacteria, however, it was not successful.
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  George Franklin Churchwell (1899 - 1948)
  Lucy Churchwell Churchwell Shattles (1901 - 1973)
 
 Spouses:
  Betty Jane Mathias Wilson (1923 - 2011)
  Guylda M Scrivner Churchwell Decker (1926 - 1997)
  Mamie Jacklyn Jackson Churchwell (1914 - 2004)
 
 Children:
  Cheryl Lee Churchwell Farrell (1944 - 1969)*
  Danny Lee Churchwell (1948 - 1988)*
 
 Sibling:
  Hillery Lee Churchwell (1919 - 1984)
  George Franklin Churchwell (1923 - 1943)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Greenlawn Memorial Gardens
Chesapeake (Chesapeake City County)
Chesapeake City
Virginia, USA
Plot: Veterans Garden
 
Maintained by: B24CoPilotNiece
Originally Created by: Anonymous
Record added: Jul 02, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 54399752
Hillery Lee Churchwell
Added by: B24CoPilotNiece
 
Hillery Lee Churchwell
Added by: Anonymous
 
Hillery Lee Churchwell
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Ann Rorabaugh
 
 
Photos may be scaled.
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Thank you for your service. May you rest in peace.
- wings214
 Added: Sep. 4, 2014

- Rich Vance
 Added: Aug. 27, 2014

- WDK
 Added: Jan. 1, 2014
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