Burton Lowell Carter was 17 when he enlisted in the Navy to serve alongside his boyhood best friend, Delbert Weast, on the U.S.S. Arizona.
Mr. Carter was killed less than a year later in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Weast survived because he was transferred just weeks earlier to a new bomber squadron assigned to the U.S.S. Hornet.
After the war, Mr. Weast named his son Burton. Mr. Carter was a seaman 2nd class and radio operator on the Arizona. His namesake was drafted during the Vietnam war and sent to radioman school.
Mr. Carter’s niece, Chelsea J. Carter, told the story of the sailors’ friendship in a story for the Associated Press and published in newspapers across the country in 1999.
In it, Mr. Weast described his guilt over the death of a man he called “like a brother.”
“If I hadn’t joined the Navy, he wouldn’t have followed me. He’d still be alive.”
After the story was published, Mr. Weast slowly let go of the guilt, Burton Weast wrote later. Delbert Weast died in 2004.
Ms. Carter’s article said Burton, born Aug. 16, 1923, dropped out of San Diego High to join the Navy and that he got his father, Fred, drunk to sign the enlistment papers in December 1940.
Fred was a Navy man himself, according to his burial record at Golden Gate National Cemetery. He enlisted in 1917 and left the Navy in 1940. The record also says that he served in World War II, but it lists no detail. He was a chief electrician’s mate.
Sources: Chelsea J. Carter for the Associated Press; Burton Weast for the Mesquite (Nevada) Local News; U.S. Census; Navy muster rolls; Golden Gate National Cemetery record of interment. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.