S1c Donald Lapier Lakin
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S1c Donald Lapier Lakin
The Lakin brothers — Donald Lapier and Joseph Jordan — joined the Navy three days apart in November 1940 and boarded the U.S.S. Arizona on Dec. 30. They were working together the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Both were badly burned and died on Dec. 7, but one of them – it’s not known which – died on the U.S.S. Solace, a hospital ship anchored less than ¼ mile north of the Arizona. The brothers were both seamen first class. Donald’s oil-saturated watch and Joseph’s ring were returned to their father, Joseph Jerdon Lakin, in the spring of 1942. They are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.
Donald was born June 7, 1917 and Joseph on Oct. 17, 1919, both in Kansas. The family, which included an older sister, lived near Horton 25 miles northwest of Atchison, Kansas, moved to San Bernardino, California for two years about 1920, then returned to Kansas, where their father in 1925 was a fruit farmer near Marion 50 miles northeast of Wichita. Their mother, Blanche Reish Lakin, a teacher before her marriage, died in late 1935, at least eight months after the family had moved to Wathena, Kansas, population 860, across the Missouri River from St. Joseph, Missouri.
The boys played on the football team at Wathena High School. Don, as he was known to friends, graduated in 1936 and “Junior” in 1938.
By 1940, they had moved to Ontario, California. Donald worked as a salesman and his brother as a laborer at a bowling alley. Junior’s 1939 pay totaled $240. They also worked with their father in the grounds department at Pomona College.
Their father was a private in the Marine Corp from 1904 to 1906 in the Midway Islands and in Honolulu. His granite headstone was shipped to Ontario 10 years to the day after the deaths of his two sons.
Sources: The Wathena (Kansas) Times; The San Bernardino (California) Sun; the Claremont (California) Courier; Navy muster rolls; U.S. and Kansas Census, Marine and Navy headstone applications; California voter registration; Hiawatha (Kansas) Daily Record; Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe; grave marker. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.