Galen Winston Albright quit high school in Brook in northwest Indiana to enlist in the Navy in October 1940 with his friend Wilfred John Criswell. Both died on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Each was a seaman first class.
On Mother’s Day 1941 they had sent telegrams that their mothers back in Brook, population 888, received at the same time that evening.
Mr. Albright was born Jan. 3, 1922. His father, Calvin Albright, was a farmer and his mother, Amy Funk Albright, a homemaker. He was one of 10 children.
Another friend of Mr. Criswell, Clyde Jefferson Combs, who survived the attack, told the Palm Beach Post in 2001 that when the Japanese bombing began, he was trying to get off the ship. “…And then, out of the smoke, walks this sailor. So, here he comes and he looks like cooked bacon, his hair all crisp and curly… He sees me and says ‘Help me, Combs.’ I reach out to take his arm and his skin just comes away in my hand… I thought, ‘How’d he know my name?’ I sure didn’t recognize him. I learned later he was John Criswell, my pal from Indiana. We enlisted back home on the same day. Our service ID numbers were maybe one number apart.”
Several survivors started up the captain’s gig, or taxi boat, and they got Mr. Criswell on board, but he died on the way to the beach.
When Mr. Combs died in 2005 his remains were interred on the Arizona.
Sources: The Indianapolis Star; the Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Indiana; the Brook Reporter; The Palm Beach (Florida) Post; the Jackson County Banner of Brownstown, Indiana; military veterans application for headstone or marker; Indiana birth certificate. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.