Retired journalist completes quest to tell stories of all casualties from USS Arizona
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Japan’s attack on the USS Arizona claimed the lives of 1,177 sailors and Marines.
Retired journalist Bobbie Jo Buel Carter just finished writing profiles of every man who was killed aboard the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941. The research was time-consuming and rewarding.
“Because they were the first official victims of the war, most of them in their hometown paper got very large obituaries,” she said from her home in Tucson.
Her husband, David, designed the USS Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona. Together they went to more than 20 states to search for snippets of information and details that could bring the stories to life.
“We went everywhere, from tiny little libraries to the New York City public library and the North Dakota Historical Society,” she said.
In some cases, the hunt led to relatives who shared photographs and letters written by the young sailors before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“The letters to me are the thing that a hundred years from now, that’s what people are going to want to read,” Buel Carter said.
The more she learned about the young men, the more similarities she found. Many of the Arizona’s sailor were raised by single-parents, so joining the Navy was a way to support their families, and a large number of them came from small towns and farms.
“There were 1,500 sailors on that ship, and that was the biggest place they’d ever lived,” she said.
Sadly, she could find only bits of background for black Americans and sailors from Guam and the Philippines who were the the ship’s cooks and custodians. Back then the Navy was segregated.
“These men sacrificed their lives for a country that treated them so poorly. Still, after all this research it just amazes me,” she said.
Buel Carter’s research and writing took nearly six years. She’s looking for a way to share those stories.
“I’m still trying to find a permanent site, hopefully a site that has an app that can go with it,” she said.
For now, you can read all 1,177 profiles on the USS Arizona Mall Memorial’s Facebook page.
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