Unknown Sailor

S1c Charles Dewitt Byrd,

More than 1,000 people attended a ceremony in 1964 to retire the mortgage on the recently remodeled Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3382 in Kingsport, Tennessee.

A guest of honor at the event was Arthur Byrd, the father of Charles Dewitt Byrd — the 19-year-old for whom the post was named when it was founded in 1945.

Charles was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was studying to qualify for a promotion as a shipfitter – a non-commissioned petty officer.

The ceremony also included the presentation of a large portrait of Charles, who attended Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport before he joined the Navy on Oct. 3, 1940.

Mr. Byrd was born Jan. 23, 1922 in Unicoi, a town in northeastern Tennessee, to Arthur, a railroad employee, and Mollie Tipton Byrd, a homemaker. She died in 1962 on the 21st anniversary of her son’s death. It’s not known when the family, including two other sons, moved to Kingsport about 30 miles to the north-northwest.

Sources: Kingsport (Tennessee) Times News and News; 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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