MUS1c Frederick William Kinney

Unknown Sailor

MUS1c Frederick William Kinney

Frederick W. Kinney was the bandmaster on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Kinney was born July 31, 1905 in Pike County, Kentucky according to Navy records . His father, George Kinney, was a farmer and his mother, Mary Ellen Johnson Kinney, a homemaker. He was the youngest and only son of seven or eight children. His mother died of heart failure in June 1911.

By January 1920 Frederick lived with his father, who had remarried, in Willow River, Minnesota. 

Young Mr. Kinney joined the Navy in November 1926. The 1930 Census identified him as an enlisted man at the Navy yard in Kitsap, Washington. He married a Bremerton, Washington woman, Elizabeth Marie Von Babo, in June 1938 at San Pedro, California, home port for the U.S.S. Arizona.

He served in several Navy bands as a baritone player before he attended the U.S. Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C., in 1940 to train to become a bandmaster. He became the leader of the Arizona band, which graduated from the school in May 1941.

The Arizona was one of the best bands in the Navy, but in combat its members hoisted ammunition to the battleship’s 14-inch guns. And so it was that December morning in 1941 — with the band assembled on the fantail and about to play the National Anthem. Just then, the first Japanese planes flew overhead, with their guns firing. The Arizona bandsmen raced to the third deck to make sure the 75-pound power bags made their way smoothly up the electric hoists to the guns in turret two. When a Japanese bomb ignited black powder magazines nearby below, all 21 bandsmen were killed.

Mr. Kinney was a musician and petty officer first class when he died.

His father served in the Cavalry in the 1890s.


Sources: Census; grave marker; Kentucky death certificate; the Riverside (California) Press-Enterprise; the Portsmouth (Ohio) Times; the book “USS Arizona’s Last Band,” by Molly Kent. Navy photo of the Arizona band shows Mr. Kinney standing at the right. 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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