GM3c Alvin Hartley,

Unknown Sailor

GM3c Alvin Hartley

“I wonder why Alvin Hartley’s name is on the tongue of every girl in school?” a gossipy column in a south-central Oklahoma newspaper asked in early 1936.

A few weeks later the Woodville Schools column followed up: “We wonder why Inez Helm looks at Alvin Hartley so much? Is it because he is so cute?” 

Mr. Hartley, born May 10, 1921, moved to Woodville when he was young and graduated from high school there in 1939. As a senior, he won the prize for outstanding accomplishment in American history and was recognized for six years of perfect attendance.

His only sibling, Calvin, was already serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and after graduation Alvin followed suit. The CCC was a federal Depression-era jobs program.

CCC pay was meager, but it was all many young men could find in the 1930s. The 1940 Census said Alvin worked 26 weeks the previous year and earned $180 as a CCC cook. That’s equal to about $3,300 in 2020. The Census said Calvin also was a cook and earned $90, though a smudge on the document makes it impossible to see the length of his employment.

Their mother, Evy, was widowed before 1930. Their father was named Guy, but other details of his life are unavailable.

Alvin left Woodville, population 364, in August 1940 to  enlist in the Navy. He was a gunner’s mate and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Woodville no longer exists. It was submerged in 1944 when Denison Dam was built on the Red River.

Sources: The Madill (Oklahoma) Record; U.S. Veterans Administration; U.S. Defense Department; Census; Navy muster roll; grave marker. ​​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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