The ashes of Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Benzion “Barney” Packman, Pearl Harbor survivor, along with ashes of his wife Florence, were scattered in the waters near the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during a ceremony, Dec. 20.
Among those in attendance were Barney and Florence’s daughter, Marissa Batt, and other family members. Capt. Lawrence Scruggs, deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, provided remarks as the guest speaker, and Lt. Rick Tiff, a chaplain with Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel provided the benediction.
“I know he bore the scars of Pearl Harbor deep and decisive, his wounds not always visible, his sacrifice would at times weigh heavy also on his family. His story describes so humbly the dedication of his generation,” said Scruggs.
Military honors included a gun salute and the presentation of the burial flag to the family by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard.
“When my father found out that he was entitled to a naval ceremony here at the Utah because of being a Pearl Harbor survivor, he didn’t want it unless he could share it with Florence,” said Batt.
Packman was born Feb. 25, 1920. He was 19 when he decided to enlist in the Navy. He was initially rejected, but he tried again and was accepted. He enjoyed Navy life finding that the food and living conditions were better than what he had at home. He was stationed on Ford Island the day of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
“It wasn’t until about the 50th anniversary of the attack when he returned here for the ceremony he finally started talking about it,” said Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor survivor liaison, who spoke at the ceremony. “He joined the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association where he met and made new friends with similar memories.”
Packman was also assigned to Utility Squadron One on Ford Island and the escort carrier USS Santee (AO 29) and later in the war managed the sheet metal shop at the Hyannis Naval Aviation Repair Station.
“Barney and Florence loved Hawaii- very, very much. They also had totally unconditional love for each other. Barney died in 1997 and Marissa was tasked with keeping his ashes until after Florence died and ensuring they be placed here in the waters of Pearl Harbor to be together forever,” said Taylor.
Batt said the ceremony provided a great deal of comfort for her and her family. “I am so grateful to the Navy and to Jim Taylor, this means everything to me and our other family members. I feel so much more at peace now than I have felt in a long time.”