George Catsos was born Sept. 3, 1906, at Linn, Massachusetts. His parents, Anna Kourupy and Antonios Catsos, were Greek immigrants.
The family’s early history is difficult to track because the marriage did not last and because public records spell their names many ways, such as Katsos, Kuropis and Antoneos. However, one record, dated Sept. 1918, said the father was a waiter at a “war & Navy building” in Washington, D.C.
Glimpses of George’s life are revealed in applications for seaman’s certificates — a form of identification widely used before World War II to prove that men working on the sea were United States citizens. One application said he was discharged from the Navy on June 2, 1927, in Brooklyn.
His name also appeared on a July 9, 1928, manifest for a commercial steamship, the California. He was a wiper, an apprentice job that involved cleaning the engine compartment and other equipment. By November 1929 he was an oiler on the SS Virginia.
In July 1933 he signed an affidavit affirming the birth date of his younger brother, James, who was applying for his own seaman’s certificate. The affidavit said George was a fireman on the USS Orizaba, a commercial ship that mostly carried passengers between New York, Cuba and Mexico. Brother James was newly employed as a wiper on the Orizaba.
George Catsos enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 18, 1939, and went aboard the U.S.S. Arizona the next January. He was a fireman first class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
He was survived by his widow, Irene.
James Catsos enlisted in the Army in March 1942. He survived the war and became a police officer in Hoboken, N.J.
Sources: The Record of Hackensack, N.J.; Massachusetts marriage record; application for seaman’s certificate of American citizenship; U.S. Veterans Administration index; U.S. Department of Commerce crew list; World War I and World War II military registration cards; Navy muster rolls. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.