Harold Chadwick was African-American, which since 1913 meant only one branch of the segregated Navy was open to him: messman. The messman branch, which was responsible for feeding and serving other sailors, included African-Americans and men from Guam and the Philippines. They could advance to petty officers first class as a steward or cook for officers, but not to any of the other higher-skilled and better-paid ratings.
Mr. Chadwick enlisted on Oct. 5, 1937, and was a mess attendant first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
He was born June 8, 1916 in East St. Louis, Illinois to Ulysses Chadwick, but his mother’s name is uncertain. He was survived by his widow, Elizabeth, in Los Angeles.For fun, he competed on the ship’s boxing team. In a ceremony in January 1940 before the entire crew of the Arizona, Mr. Chadwick was among 32 football players, five boxers and six wrestlers awarded letter sweaters. “The sweaters are of excellent material and workmanship, and have been purchased by Welfare Funds to express the appreciation and esteem in which our athletes are held by the ship’s company,” At ‘Em Arizona, the ship’s newsletter, reported in January 1940. “The recipients will wear them with pride and satisfaction that will increase as the years roll by. If they are careful they may even be able to hand them on to their sons.”
Sources: The Los Angeles Times, The St. Louis Star and Times, Navy muster rolls, Naval History and Heritage Command, At ‘Em Arizona newsletter for Jan. 27, 1940. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.