Henry Lloyd Lee was born in the small town of Conway, Horry County in the beautiful State of South Carolina on August 23, 1921. The town was flanked by North Carolina and the Atlantic, making it a quiet but beautiful place to grow up in. Henry’s father, John, was a farmer who worked tirelessly to provide for his family. His mother, Aggie Gerrald Lee, was a homemaker who took care of their home and children.
Henry grew up surrounded by love and hard work, learning the values of dedication and perseverance from his parents. However, tragedy struck when he was just 15 years old. His father passed away from a brain hemorrhage, leaving the family to cope with the loss and pick up the pieces. Henry was determined to make something of himself, and he knew that enlisting in the Navy was the right decision.
On November 29, 1939, Henry made the brave decision to enlist in the United States Navy. He had just graduated from Conway High School, a town of less than 2,000 when he was born, but now had grown to over 5,000 by the late 1930s. Henry was excited to start his new journey, to serve his country and make a difference.
Henry’s naval career brought him to the USS Arizona, where he served as a seaman first class. It was an honor for him to serve on such a prestigious ship, and he felt proud to be part of the crew. However, on December 7, 1941, everything changed. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona was hit by multiple bombs. The ship quickly sank, taking the lives of over 1,000 sailors with it, including Henry.
The news of Henry’s death devastated his family and community. They mourned the loss of a young man who had so much potential, but who had given his life in service to his country. For years, they held out hope that Henry’s remains would be recovered, so that they could give him a proper burial. However, as time passed, that hope began to fade.
Today, there is a cenotaph for Henry Lloyd Lee at Good Hope Baptist Church Cemetery north of Conway. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifice that he made for his country and of the countless other brave men and women who have given their lives in service to the United States. The cenotaph stands tall and proud, bearing Henry’s name, rank, and the dates of his birth and death.
Henry’s legacy lives on, not only in the hearts of his family and community but also in the proud history of the USS Arizona. His selflessness and dedication to his country will never be forgotten. Henry Lloyd Lee is a true American hero, and his sacrifice will always be remembered with gratitude and respect.
NOTE: If you are a family member related to this crew member of the U.S.S. Arizona, or have additional information, pictures or documents to share about his life or service to our county please contact us through our FAMILY MEMBER SUBMISSION FORM.
Sources: The Greenville (South Carolina) News; Census; Navy muster roll; cenotaph; grave markers. The photo is from the book “Young American Patriots of World War II,” published in 1946. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.