BM1c Chester Clay Rose
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BM1c Chester Clay Rose
Chester Clay Rose was born Feb. 29, 1916 in Clark County, Kentucky east of Lexington. His father, Joseph Rose, was a farmer and his mother Golden Catherine Byrd Rose, a homemaker. She died when the boy was nine — two weeks after giving birth to his brother, Harry.
Chester graduated from Clark County High School, then enlisted in the Navy in July 1934. He re-enlisted in July 1940. Mr. Rose was a boatswain’s mate and petty officer first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Rose survived the bombing of the Arizona and swam to nearby Ford Island, where he met a shipmate, John Delmar Anderson. They saw a lifeboat in the water and decided to return to the Arizona, hoping to save other men. “All we found was parts,” Anderson said later. The pair steered through oil-covered water and picked up bodies and wounded men from other ships. They were headed back toward Ford when a shell exploded near their full boat. Mr. Anderson was once again able to swim to shore. But Mr. Rose and everyone else died.
He was survived by a daughter.
Mr. Rose was a Mason and a member of Lodge #117 in Bremerton, Washington. For fun, he played on the Arizona’s football team, which competed against teams from other ships. In a ceremony in January 1940 before the entire crew of the Arizona, Mr. Rose was among 32 football players, five boxers, and six wrestlers awarded letter sweaters. “The sweaters are of excellent material and workmanship, and have been purchased by Welfare Funds to express the appreciation and esteem in which our athletes are held by the ship’s company,” At ‘Em Arizona, the ship’s newsletter, reported in January 1940. “The recipients will wear them with pride and satisfaction that will increase as the years roll by. If they are careful they may even be able to hand them on to their sons.”
Mr. Rose’s brother also served in the Navy, from August 1943 through November 1944.
Sources: the Lexington (Kentucky) Leader; the Hamilton (Ohio) Evening Journal; Kentucky birth index; Navy muster rolls; Census; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs death file; John D. Anderson interview for the book, “The USS Arizona,” by Joy Waldron Jasper, James P. Delgado and Jim Adams; At ‘Em Arizona newsletter of Jan. 27, 1940. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.