ENS Edward Webb Gosselin,
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ENS Edward Webb Gosselin
Ensign Edward Webb Gosselin, 24, had just been promoted to the officer in charge of 90 of the men who ran the boilers, hydraulic machinery, and fuel supply on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
He was born May 1, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His family moved to Joliet, Illinois in 1927 and he attended De La Salle High School in Joliet and then Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He played sports at Yale and was a member of the Yale Political Union and St. Elmo Society. His father, also named Edward, ran manufacturing businesses in Joliet and East Chicago, Indiana.
Gosselin graduated from Yale, as did his mother, Florilla. He earned a bachelor of science degree in 1940 before working briefly in Indiana. He then attended the U.S. Naval Reserve training school at Northwestern University, graduating in the fall of 1940.
Shortly before his death, he wrote to his parents: “Mine is a great opportunity and I’m anxious to learn something more. I feel just a little more valuable to the U.S.A. — just in case.”
At the onset of the December 7, 1941 attack, the Arizona (BB-39) was moored at berth Fox 7 on Battleship Row. The repair ship Vestal (AR-4) was on her port or left side, while the starboard side faced the northeastern shore of Ford Island. Just before 8 a.m., the ship’s air raid alarm sounded and the crew was ordered to general quarters. During the attack the battleship was struck by four major aerial bombs, including one 1,700 lb. armor-piercing shell that penetrated the deck near the No. 2 turret and detonated in a black powder magazine, causing a cataclysmic explosion that “destroyed the ship forward” and ignited a fire which burned for more than two days. Most of the Arizona crew who perished in the attack died instantly during the explosion. The ship quickly sank roughly 40 feet to the bottom of the harbor along with 1,177 of the 1,512 men on board, representing nearly half of the total number of Americans killed that day.A destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Gosselin, later converted to a high-speed transport, was commissioned in the ensign’s memory in 1944. The ship was in Tokyo Bay, carrying journalists to and from the U.S.S. Missouri, where Japan signed the surrender papers ending the war on Sept. 2, 1945.
Sources: “Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University,” Yale archivist Judith Schiff, Bobbie Bowman for Patch, Associated Press. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.