October 8, 1922 (New London, CT) – December 7, 1941; 19 years old
Mother listed at Fairview Avenue, Groton
Enlisted on October 15, 1940
Service number 2072956
USS Arizona (BB-39)
Born to Paul Seeley (1895-1936) and Francis (1894-1977). Sister Jeannette Seeley Goslin (1925-2014) and one brother, Paul (1929-1996). William’s father, Paul, drowned on a fishing trip on September 13, 1936. William was 13 years old.
Received the Purple Heart Medal.
There is some confusion about how to spell his last name. In several places, it’s Seely without an e between L and Y. His birth certificate, all military records, the USS Arizona Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial have the spelling of “Seeley”. The e before the y is a mistake. The rest of the family spelled their last name Seely. The mistake on his birth certificate carried into his military career, as that was the form needed to make sure enlistees are old enough.
USS Arizona December 31, 1941; listed as missing
William attended Pleasant Valley School and Robert E. Fitch High School. Those who knew him remembered that he worked after school in a hardware store on Thames Street and went to Sunday School at the Groton Heights Baptist Church. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1940.
Built in 1954, the now-closed William Seely Elementary School in Groton was named in his honor. Each year on December 7th, Principal Dick Raymond made a special announcement explaining the significance of the day and the part William Seely played in defending his country. An apartment complex is in design / approval stages for the land the school is on.
William’s childhood home on Fairview Avenue in Groton had to be torn down to make room for the Gold Star Memorial Bridge over the Thames River between Groton and New London.
USS Arizona Memorial. Photo from findagrave.com
Memorialized Courts of the Missing, Court 2, Honolulu Memorial, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo from findagrave.com.