USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Ajax Lilly, CSM
Ajax Lilly passed away on June 25th 1998, at the age of 77.
July 26th, 2000
Sandra Wood, Carol Reed, Ronald Lilly & Patricia Williams
This information is being submitted in loving memory of our father, Ajax Lilly.
Ajax Lilly grew up in the depression era. Jobs were scarce in Southern West
Virginia in those days. He graduated from Spanishburg High School in 1939.
Wanting to see the world he decided to let Uncle Sam foot the bill and
joined the navy after graduation.
Following 8 weeks basic training at Norfolk, Virginia Dad was assigned to
the battleship USS West Virginia (1939-1941), then home ported in long Beach,
California. Shortly after that, the "Wee Vee", as crewmen affectionally
called her, sailed for Hawaii.
As fate would have it, Dad was off duty but topside in the early morning
hours of Sunday December 7th 1941. At first he thought the planes circling
overhead were our pilots practicing bombing manuevers. The strafing,
torpedo wakes, and bombs falling soon ended those thoughts. The men of the
West Virginia fought back but with limited resources due to their location
and the damage they sustained. In the course of the battle, the ship took 6
torpedo hits and several bombs. When the order to abandon ship was given,
our father dived overboard and swam about 400 yards thru burning oil and
other debris to Ford Island. Not being injured, and with the West Virginia
sitting on the bottom of the harbor, he was quickly reassigned to the USS
Salt Lake City which left port soon after.
From December 1941 until the end of the war, Dad served continuously on the
Salt Lake City. We aways felt that, even though being aboard the West
Virginia on December 7th 1941 was his claim to fame, his true love was the
"Swayback Maru." Over the years we heard many stories of the heroics of his
shipmates and the love they all felt for the SLC during its long, dangerous
period in the Pacific. Our wish is that he could have lived long enough to
read all the stories about the SLC and its crew, which appear on your web
USS WEST VIRGINIA Website hosted by Mike Mullins
Messages from Family Members
18 Jul 2000
Thank you for spending the time to group these together... My grandfather
is in one of your pictures. He is CSM Ajax Lilly. The worlds greatest
grandfather. He was in Pearl Harbor on the USS West Virginia....I think
after that awful date Dec. 07, he went to the Salt Lake City... He was a
great man, and I grew up listening to his stories, of his Navy days..
He past away a couple of years ago.. I truly miss him.... I myself
just got out of the U.S. Navy after doing 8 yrs. of service for my country,
I guess I followed in my Grandfathers footsteps. Once again thank you for
this great page. You made my day.. I now have this page saved to my
favorites and will visit it often.
Just wanted to say thank you for the web page on the Salt Lake City. I
found a picture of my Dad there, Ajax Lilly, one of the signal men. I wish
he could have seen it, but he passed away two years ago. He was so proud
to serve his country in the Navy.
#3 with Signal Gang, 1942
#2 with Signal Gang
#11 with Signal Gang
SLC Deck Log, Dec. 194
Tidbit found in the Aug. 29th, 1943 Salt Shaker Newsletter from the SLC
Ajax Lilly catches signaling light and semaphore without strain. His heart is said to beat Morse Code and on walking, his arms swing in semaphore rhythm.