Funeral service for Woodrow “Pete” Atchison, 97, of Birmingham is at 1 p.m., Saturday, in the Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens in Trussville with the Rev. Joe Booth officiating.
Burial will follow in the adjoining Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens cemetery.
Mr. Atchison died Sunday morning, Nov. 17, 2019, at the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City.
He was a resident at the veterans’ home for the past seven years, but was a prior resident of Mt. Brook, a suburb of Birmingham.
He is survived by his two sons, Michael “Mike” (Michelle) Atchison of Fairfax, Va., and David (Laura Nation) Atchison of Pell City; two grandsons, Jonathan Atchison of Gardendale, and Robert “Ken” (Brandi) Atchison of Albertville; one granddaughter, Graziella Atchison of Oakton, Va.; two great-granddaughters, Lily and McKenzie Atchison; and two step great-grandchildren Peyton and Tanner Dorsett.
Mr. Atchison is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Nash Atchison; one son, Robert Atchison; and one daughter, Susan Atchison.
Mr. Atchison was in sales after he retired from the military, but his love and passion was serving in the U.S. Navy for his country.
He and his wife were married on Independence Day, July 4, 1946, in Birmingham, where they raised four children.
Mr. Atchison was born Jan. 14, 1922, in Winston County to parents Wert and Lizzie Dorman Atchison.
He was raised just north of Tuscaloosa in the small farming community of Samantha before joining the U.S. Navy July 2, 1940, prior to the date which will live in infamy, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Atchison, who was a Chief Navigator (Quartermaster) in the U.S. Navy, was aboard the U.S.S. Clark (DD-361) when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The U.S.S. Clark was in overhaul in San Diego at the outbreak of war, but within two weeks escorted two convoys to Pearl Harbor, the ship’s home port only months before the attack.
According to Naval records, the U.S.S. Clark escorted four convoys on their passage between Pearl Harbor and San Francisco, before sailing on to Midway.
During the Battle of Midway, the U.S.S. Clark was tasked to guard the French Frigate Shoals, which was used as an emergency landing site for U.S. war planes between Hawaii and Midway.
Mr. Atchison was transferred to a mine sweeper in 1943, and served the remainder of the war on the YMS (176). The wooden vessel would sweep for mines laid by enemy forces.
The small crew of the YMS (176) swept mines ahead of the allied forces invasion of Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Allied ships involved in the invasion were under frequent attacks by kamikaze pilots.
During his 20 years of service, Mr. Atchison also served onboard the U.S.S. Chandler (DD-717), U.S.S. Soley (DD-707), U.S.S. Sarsfield (DD-837), U.S.S. Hampden County (LST-803) and the USS Desoto County (LST-1171). He also served at overseas U.S. Commands in London, England, as a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Instructor at Rice Institute in Houston, Texas, and as a U.S. Navy Recruiter in Birmingham.
Mr. Atchison received numerous medals during his service to country, including the American Defense Medal, American Theatre Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
The Atchison family would like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women at the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home for the exemplary care of this old sailor for the past seven years.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial may be made to a charity of choice.
Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens will direct the service.
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