S1c Elmo Howard,

Unknown Sailor

S1c Elmo Howard

Elmo Howard, born March 20, 1921, grew up on the family farm near Versailles, Kentucky between Frankfort and Lexington, and in high school belonged to the Future Farmers of America.

In his senior year, 1939, the club sponsored the second Woodford County Tobacco Show, which featured 1,000 pounds of tobacco competing for prizes. The club also planted sod to cover worn spots on campus.

His older brother, John, enlisted in the Navy in the summer of 1939 and Elmo followed in September 1940.

Elmo was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

John was on a destroyer, the U.S.S. Balch, that morning as it neared Pearl Harbor after helping deliver a Marine Corps fighter squadron to Wake Island. The Balch received a radio message about the attack and stayed off the coast until near sundown on Dec. 8, when it entered Pearl Harbor. It must have been then that John found out that his brother’s mighty battleship had been blown up.

Relatives in Kentucky were notified just before Christmas that Elmo was missing, but there was no word from John until January. Even then, his letter “was so censored that all we were able to find out was that he was OK,” another brother, Richard, recalled 70 years later.

All six living sons of John W. Howard and Lena Phillips Howard served in the military when they were old enough — John, Elmo, Charles, and Joe in the Navy; Richard and Jim in the Army.

Sources: the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader; Census; Navy muster rolls; Versailles High School yearbook, The Jacketeer; Naval History and Heritage Command; Defense Department; Veterans Administration. 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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