Unknown Sailor

S1c Burdette Charles Campbell

Burdette Charles Campbell enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 23, 1941 — his 17th birthday.

Mr. Campbell was a junior at James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and would have needed a parent’s approval to enlist because he was under the Navy’s minimum age of 18.

His mother, Emma Rose Seymour Campbell, was a homemaker and his father, Ezra Arthur Campbell, a welder. Burdette was born in Nebraska, but by at least April 1935 the family lived in Montebello east of Los Angeles.

The 1940 Census said the family  included two younger daughters. The father worked 28 weeks the previous year and earned $600 — equal to about $11,000 in 2020. As for so many young men in the Great Depression, it seems likely Mr. Campbell enlisted to help with family finances.

He did well in the Navy, advancing to seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona by the time he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Another Garfield High student also died on the Arizona. James Webster Leight quit school in April 1941. He was a seaman second class when he was killed

Sources: The Los Angeles Times; Census; Navy muster roll; California death index; WWII draft registration card; Garfield High School. 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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