GM3c Elmer Orville Hicks,
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GM3c Elmer Orville Hicks
Elmer Orville Hicks was born Jan. 8, 1920 in Valier, Montana on the high plains 50 miles east of Glacier National Park. His parents, Elwood and Ethel, farmed wheat about a mile north of town.
His brother, Charles, later described the land as having “rich black gumbo soil” and their home as a “typical homesteaders shanty — thin clapboard siding, a round roof covered with tar paper, with a few small windows.”
By 1930 the family had moved west to Latah County, Idaho, in the northern part of the state. The father was still farming. The parents later divorced and the sons remained with their father and grandmother in Latah.
Young Elmer graduated in 1939 from Potlatch HIgh School, where he lettered in football and basketball. He belonged to the school’s press club and was associate editor of the yearbook. He also worked as a farmhand.
Mr. Hicks enlisted in the Navy on Aug. 14, 1939. He was a gunner’s mate and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
His father was an Army veteran of World War I. His brother enlisted in the Navy within days of the attack on Pearl Harbor and served aboard the U.S.S. Maryland for the entire war. He, too, was a gunner’s mate. The Maryland saw heavy fighting throughout the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, including attacks by kamikazes.
Sources: The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington; The Everett (Washington) Herald; Census; Navy muster rolls; Montana birth record; written recollection of Charles Hicks; Navy enlistment application. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.