CPL Alexander Louis Piasecki

Unknown Sailor

CPL Alexander Louis Piasecki

Alexander Louis Piasecki had a difficult life before he died at age 23 on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Piasecki was a corporal in the Marines.

He was born Jan. 29, 1918 in Acme in Sheridan County in north-central Wyoming about 10 miles south of the Montana border. His mother, Anna Szewczyk Piasecki, and father, Ignac Piasecki, were Polish immigrants. 

The 1930 Census showed the family, which included four of their children and a daughter by Mrs. Piasecki’s previous marriage, still in Sheridan County, where the father farmed. The parents divorced about 1932.

The mother was kicked by a horse and killed in August 1935. A month later the Casper Star-Tribune reported that Alexander was accidentally shot between the eyes by a companion. The .22 caliber bullet rested against his spine and was not removed, the newspaper said.

A sister, Leona, recalled that her father placed her and a brother in an orphanage after their mother’s death. It’s unclear which brother that was, but the 1940 Census said two brothers, George and Joseph, lived at the Wyoming State Children’s Home in Casper. By then, Leona, 17, worked as a housemaid in Cheyenne.

Alex, as he was called, was on his own by at least 1938, when he was an assistant leader of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Ranchester, a small town in Sheridan County. The CCC was a Depression-era jobs program for young men. The company to which he belonged, #1811, Camp F-3-W, built ranger stations and a dam that summer.

Men who performed well in the CCC often enlisted in the military, and Mr. Piasecki followed that course, joining the Marines on Sept. 23, 1939.

In an interview many years after his death, Leona said that her brother “could really sing” and aspired to become a musician or artist.

At least one of his brothers — the youngest, George — served in the Merchant Marine.


Sources: the Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune; the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune; U.S. Veterans Administration; Census; “History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Colorado and Wyoming District”; Census. Marine photograph. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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