Unknown Sailor

PVT Donald Ross Chandler

Donald Ross Chandler graduated from high school in Millport in northwest Alabama in 1940 and then followed his oldest brother, Edwin, into the military.

Edwin had joined the Marines in 1935 and when that enlistment ended, he joined the Navy in 1939. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona.

Donald enlisted in the Marines and initially served on another ship. But he wanted to be with his brother and sought a transfer to the Arizona. His request was granted and he went aboard in November 1940.

Donald, a private, was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. His brother, a seaman first class, was on shore leave that morning with his wife at their apartment in Honolulu, and survived.

Edwin wrote home to family in Alabama that he wished the attackers would return. “All who come here now will never go home again,” he wrote. Edwin served in the Navy until April 1957.

They were the sons of Maude Pearl Johnson Chandler, a homemaker, and John C. Chandler, a salesman in various fields. In the late 1930s he sold Singer sewing machines in Millport, population 700.

Donald was born March, 13, 1922. As a teen, his name was often mentioned in the Millport news column of The Lamar Democrat in Vernon, Alabama. Among other activities, it identified him as a second baseman, a singer, and the student voted “wittiest” by his senior class.

After his son’s death, Mr. Chandler, then 52, tried to enlist in the Marines. Though he was beyond the age limit for recruits, he wrote that he was “very active and anxious to get some place where I can avenge to some extent the death of my boy.” There is no service record for him, indicating that his plea was declined.


Sources: The Birmingham (Alabama) News; The Lamar Democrat of Vernon, Alabama; Navy and Marine muster rolls; California death index; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs death file; grave markers; Census. Marine photo. 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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