Unknown Sailor

MUS2c Gerald Clinton Cox

Gerald Clinton Cox was a musician, so it was fitting that the spring after his death on the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor his former high school bandmates dedicated the final piece at their annual concert to his memory.

The band at United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois played “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Mr. Cox, a musician and petty officer second class on the battleship, had played clarinet, saxophone, electric Hawaiian guitar, Spanish guitar, and the violin. 

Mr. Cox was born Aug. 17, 1922, in Viroqua in western Wisconsin near the Minnesota-Iowa border to Nathaniel Cox, a welder, and Amy Walling Cox, a homemaker. The father served in the Army from 1920 to 1921 and in the Navy from 1943 to 1944. He was a metalsmith and chief petty officer in World War II.

In 1939 the family moved 165 miles south to East Moline, Illinois, part of the Quad Cities. The son graduated from high school there in 1940. Ha attended the Racine Conservatory of Music before enlisting in the Navy in February 1941.

All 21 band members were killed after they rushed to their battle station in the ammunition hold beneath the No. 2 turret near where a Japanese bomb ignited ablack powder magazine, destroying the battleship.

A memorial service in his honor was held in January 1942 at First Christian Church in East Moline. His body was one of the few recovered from the ship and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Mr. Cox was one of three United Township High students killed on the Arizona

The school had about 1,500 students, though it isn’t clear that the three men knew one another before they were assigned to the ship. Michael Giovenazzo would have been in the class of 1940 but left school in August 1938 to enlist. Edward Paul Manion moved to East Moline about 1937 and also was a member of the class of 1940. He enlisted that November.


Sources: The Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel; The Dispatch of Moline, Illinois; The Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin; applications for military headstones; Census; Navy muster rolls; “USS Arizona’s Last Band, the History of U.S. Navy Band Number 22,” by Molly Kent; “At ‘Em Arizona,” the ship’s newspaper. Navy photo. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

NOTE: If you are a family member related to this crew member of the U.S.S. Arizona, or have additional information, pictures or documents to share about his life or service to our county please contact us through our FAMILY MEMBER SUBMISSION FORM