S1c Gordon Blane King,

Unknown Sailor

S1c Gordon Blane King

Gordon Blane King long wanted to serve in the Navy, his parents said after he died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. King was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona.

He was born Feb. 20, 1920 in Tennessee to William King, a poultry and cattle dealer, and Alice Bohanan King, a homemaker.

The boy attended Central High School in Knoxville and by the time of the spring 1940 Census was working as a decorator. He enlisted on Oct. 4, 1940.

He loved football but was too small to play, his mother said. The family sent him the Knoxville newspaper so he could keep up with Central High and Tennessee games.

Another former Central High student, James Leon Bridges, also died on the Arizona. He was three years older than Mr. King. There’s no indication they knew each other before they ended up on the same battleship, though perhaps Mr. King had heard of Mr. Bridges’ football exploits. He was a fullback on Central’s undefeated 1935 team.

Two of Mr. King’s brothers served in the Army — Charles during World War II and Donald during the Korean War.


Sources: The Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel; The Knoxville Journal; Census; Navy muster roll; Defense Department; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs death files. 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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