QM2c Arnold Alfred Wilcox

Unknown Sailor

QM2c Arnold Alfred Wilcox

Arnold Alfred Wilcox had a taste for adventure. When he was 15, he and a friend hitchhiked 300 miles from their home in Dumont, Iowa, population about 700, to see the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Another time, at 13 while on an all-night hike with a Boy Scout troop, he slightly burned his arm and lost three fingernails when he tried to make a fuse out of a firecracker.

In 1935 he graduated from high school in Dumont, and the next year joined the Navy.

He was a bugler for most of his first three years in the Navy, then qualified as a quartermaster — one of the sailors who cared for nautical charts, records, and instruments, and when on the bridge served as assistants to the navigator and the officer of the deck. He also played centerfield on the U.S.S. Arizona’s baseball team, which competed against men from other ships.

Mr. Wilcox was a quartermaster and petty officer second class when he was killed on the Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

He was born Jan. 16, 1918 in Dumont, the son of Alfred W. Wilcox, a harness maker, and Icea Keister Wilcox, a homemaker. The father died of pneumonia in October 1918 when Arnold Alfred was still an infant. His mother, left with five children, soon took a job as postmistress in Dumont 80 miles north-northeast of Des Moines.

His Dumont classmates honored Mr. Wilcox at a banquet, dubbed a victory dinner, in June 1942.

By the time of his death, Mr. Wilcox’s mother was living 30 miles northeast in Charles City, Iowa, population 8,681. Her home was 700 yards from that of Reca Cole, whose grandson, Ray Milo Wilson, was also killed on the Arizona. Mrs. Cole had raised her grandson after both his parents died. Mr. Wilson graduated from high school in Charles City in 1938 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve that May. He was a radioman and petty officer third class on the Arizona, but it’s unknown whether the two Iowa sailors ever met before serving on the ship.

Another resident of Charles City, John Doran Hayes, also died on the Arizona. He was born in Charles City in 1913 and graduated from Charles City High School in 1931. By the time he was killed, he was a boatswain’s mate and petty officer first class. He left a widow and young daughter in Long Beach, California and was also survived by his parents in Charles City.


Sources: The Iowa Recorder of Greene, Iowa; Cherokee (Iowa) Daily Times; Census; Iowa death and birth records; the Globe-Gazette of Mason City, Iowa; At ‘Em Arizona newsletter of April 6, 1940. 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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