MATT3c Edgar Jr. Robertson

Unknown Sailor

MATT3c Edgar Jr. Robertson

Edgar C. Robertson Jr. was born in Virginia on Jan. 23, 1921. His father was a laborer at a tile works and his mother, Inez Haynes Robertson, a servant for a family.

The June 18, 1930 Census said the Robertson household, which then included nine children ages 15 to not quite one, lived in the Brookland district of Henrico County northwest of Richmond. The mother died in November 1933 of kidney disease and septicemia. 

Edgar Jr. enlisted in the Navy on June 12, 1940. Mr. Robertson was a mess attendant third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Because he was African-American, the messman branch was the only job open to him in the segregated Navy dating to the Wilson Administration. Messmen cooked, cleaned, and performed other services. The branch also included men from Guam and the Philippines. They could advance to become a petty officer first class as a steward or cook for officers, but that was their limit.


Sources: Census; Virginia death and marriage records; military registration form; Navy muster roll; Virginia birth record. 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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