The leap year of 1920 brought with it a precious gift for William Lewis and Laura Davis Lewis of Spartanburg County in northwest South Carolina. On February 29th, Wayne Alman Lewis was born, filling their home with joy and happiness. His father, William, was a carpenter who took great pride in his work. His mother, Laura, was a homemaker, taking care of their home and children.
As Wayne grew up, he watched his father work diligently, honing his craft and providing for their family. It was no surprise then that Wayne inherited his father’s love for woodworking and building things. He always had a knack for carpentry, and he knew that enlisting in the Navy would allow him to use his skills to serve his country.
On November 29, 1939, Wayne made the courageous decision to enlist in the United States Navy. He was excited to start his new journey and proud to serve his country. His naval career brought him to the USS Arizona, where he served as a carpenter’s mate and petty officer third 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, the world as Wayne knew it changed forever. 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 Wayne.
The news of Wayne’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. At least one of his brothers, Clifton, served in the Army throughout the war. The family had made tremendous sacrifices, and Wayne’s death was a painful reminder of the cost of war.
Despite their sorrow, the Lewis family held on to the hope that Wayne’s remains would be recovered, so that they could give him a proper burial. Sadly, that hope was never realized, and Wayne’s body remains entombed within the wreckage of the USS Arizona.
Today, Wayne Alman Lewis is remembered as a hero, a man who gave his life in service to his country. His sacrifice will always be honored and respected, and his memory will never be forgotten. Though he may be gone, his legacy lives on through his family and community, and through the proud history of the USS Arizona. Wayne’s selflessness and dedication to his country will forever inspire us to strive for a better tomorrow, and to honor the brave men who have given their lives in defense of our freedom.