SM3c Galen Steve Velia

Unknown Sailor

SM3c Galen Steve Velia

Galen Steve Velia and his older brother, Keith, were both assigned to the U.S.S. Arizona.

Galen was killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Keith survived. One account said he was on shore leave that Sunday morning. Another said he jumped from the burning ship and swam to nearby Ford Island.

Galen, born Dec. 24, 1922, was a signalman and petty officer third class. Keith, born in 1921, was a seaman second class.

The brothers were from the southeast Kansas town of Pittsburg, a center for coal mining. Their father, Steve, worked as a miner and as a laborer for a steam shovel business. Steam shovels were used to excavate the coal. Their mother, Fern, was widowed in 1939.

Galen enlisted in the Naval Reserve on Oct. 5, 1940. Keith followed him on March 18, 1941 but into the regular Navy. Both young men had attended Pittsburg High School.

Their younger brother, Jesse, enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 25, 1944. Both he and Keith survived the war.

There is a cenotaph for Galen at Highland Park Cemetery in Pittsburg. His parents are buried there.


Sources: Joplin (Missouri) Globe; The Morning Sun of Pittsburg, Kansas; The Great Bend (Kansas) Tribune; Census records, Navy muster rolls; grave markers. News photograph. 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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