F2c Birb Richard Rhodes

Unknown Sailor

F2c Birb Richard Rhodes

Birb Richard Rhodes Jr. was born on Valentine’s Day 1920 in Henderson County in west Tennessee. His father, a farmer, died not quite three months earlier. The widow, Sarah Lewis Rhodes, a homemaker, already had three daughters under age seven.

No public record describes the father’s cause of death, but as far back as June 1917, in completing a military registration card, he asked to be exempted from the draft because of “bad health.” He was born and still lived in or near Wildersville, a small unincorporated community.

By the time of the spring 1930 Census, Mrs. Rhodes and her four children lived 25 miles to the northwest in Milan, population 3,156, where she and the eldest daughter, Mary, worked at a cigar factory.

Birb Jr. enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 10, 1939. Mr. Rhodes was a fireman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

There is a cenotaph in his memory at Oakwood Cemetery in Milan. His mother and sisters are buried there.


Sources: The Jackson (Tennessee) Sun; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; grave markers and cenotaph; Census; Navy muster roll. 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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