F3c Eugene James Fitzsimmons,

Unknown Sailor

F3c Eugene James Fitzsimmons

Eugene James Fitzsimmons and his shipmates on the U.S.S. Arizona “did their day in hell,” a friend recalled years later. “I think they ascended straight into Heaven.”

Mr. Fitzsimmons, a fireman third class, was one of 1,177 men on the Arizona killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

The friend, Milton Card, served on the U.S.S. Tracy, a destroyer, but planned to meet Mr. Fitzsimmons and go ashore when the latter got off duty at 4 p.m. Instead, Mr. Fitzsimmons was killed that morning, the day after passing an exam and receiving a certificate for a big promotion to electrician’s mate and petty officer third class.

Mr. Fitzsimmons was born in Dixon, Illinois on July 5, 1921 to Richard Francis Fitzsimmons, a farmer and later a sheet metal worker, and Gertrude Eileen Lannen Fitzsimmons, a homemaker. 

By 1930 the family was in Aurora 70 miles east on the outskirts of Chicago. He attended East Aurora High School, where the 1939 yearbook identified him as a senior. He joined the Navy on Oct. 8, 1940.

His brother, Richard, served in the Navy in World War II and the Korean war. He retired after 22 years as a chief petty officer.


Sources: Dixon (Illinois) Evening Telegraph; The Fox Valley Labor News of Aurora, Illinois; Census; Navy muster roll; East Aurora High School yearbook. 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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