Harold K. Costill

USS West Virginia

Harold K. Costill was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941




Thank you so much for starting this web site.  I think it is terrific. I have always hoped there would be someplace I could possibly find out something about my brother.  He was only 18 years old when he died.  I was a 10 year old girl at the time, and it hit me very hard, as he was a very special brother.  I have three other brothers, two who served in the Coast Guard during the war.  The third wasn’t old enough to enlist.

I am sending some pictures which I copied for you.  I am also sending some excerpts from several of his letters.  I wrote to the Navy Department for any info on him.  I was told that they have graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI.  There were 33 from the USS West Virginia who were classified as Pearl Harbor unknown.  The remains are in combined graves in the Punchbowl Crater Cemetery.  That is a lot more information than my parents ever received.  I guess living in the age of the computer, I have the ability to learn more about that day.

This was from a letter dated August 2, 1941.

“Well here I am in Hawaii.  I came across on the Fanning, a Destroyer.  I am on the West Virginia and haven’t had any liberty yet.  Hawaii sure is a pretty place.  It is all hilly.  The country side is green all over on the hill sides.  I wish all of you could see it, you would never forget it.  We are in Pearl Harbor which is just a short distance from Honolulu.  Honolulu will be one of the first places I will go to when I get liberty.  I am in the Engineers Division on board West Virginia.  I will work down in the engine room.  The West Virginia is a battle ship, she sure is big.”

This was from a letter dated August 23, 1941.

“I’ll tell you a little of what I am doing on board ship.  The West Virginia is an electric driven ship.  I am in the main drive gang or M division.  We make the electricity for the ships light and power and also for the main motors which supply the ships drive or in other words makes it go.  I am a power plant electrician.  I work around high voltages.  We make enough electricity on board to supply a small city.  My work is very interesting and I like it a lot.”

 This was from a letter dated November 28, 1941.

 “Dad ain’t just a lying when he said that the Germans are playing with dynamite when they start monkeying with Uncle Sam’s Navy.  I guess the Jap’s knew better than to try anything with us.  We don’t have to worry about any country, we can lick them all!”

 This was his last letter dated December 3, 1941.

 “Well in another week I will have a year in and I don’t regret a single day of it.  If I had it to do over I would join up in a second.  Even though I have been away from home so long, I have been to places and seen things that I never would have seen.  I figure that the experience I am getting and the things I am seeing are worth my having to be away from home.  I figure that a guy can’t live off of his parents forever.  The schooling that a guy gets in the Navy would cost a fortune on the outside or civilian life.”

 Well, I hope you find this interesting Mike.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this information


 Joan Costill Burke



I was greatly relieved when we got word that Harold K. Costill, my brother "Brud" as we called him, was not one of the guys trapped in the air bubble, who lasted for twenty some days before suffocating.

A friend of mine was at "pearl" and took the Arizona
tour. He met a survivor who had been on the WV.

That man told our friend that Harold had relieved his watch early that Sunday Morning, or he might not have been down below when the bombs hit.

I am well aware of the role fate played in deciding who lived and who died.

I was on an assault transport and took part in the invasions of Casablanca, Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Southern France.

When I hear people try to romanticize war, it makes me sick.  Sherman said it best "War is Hell"

My grandsons are approaching the age when they could be involved in another war.

Today is Memorial Day, and one thing is for sure, these boys know and appreciate what you men went through at Pearl Harbor



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