Three students from Bayfield High School in southwestern Colorado died on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The school drew students from the Pine River Valley, whose 1940 population was 1,143 — smaller than the crew of the battleship.
Ralph Elmer Fife, Gordon Eugene Berry, and Harold Milton Carmack all graduated in 1940 or 1941.
Mr. Fife was born Jan. 23, 1920, in Newton, Kansas, to Raymond Fife, a farmer, and Elsie Cain Fife, a homemaker. His mother died when he was five and he moved to the Pine River Valley to live with an aunt and uncle, Alta and Linus Rathjin.
He enlisted in the Navy on July 26, 1940, and was a seaman first class when he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Berry was born Oct. 9, 1922 in Santa Cruz, New Mexico north of Santa Fe to Clem Berry, a farmer, and Edith Scalf Berry, a homemaker. The father died about 10 years later in Kansas, and the boy moved to Bayfield to live with an older brother, Charles, and his family.
He enlisted on Nov. 7, 1940, and was a fireman second class when he was killed.
Mr. Carmack was born Jan. 2, 1922 in Bayfield to Oscar Waler Carmack, a farmer, and Mary Lena Darnall Carmack, a homemaker.
He enlisted on Nov. 5, 1940, and, like his classmate, was a fireman second class when he was killed.The Pine River Valley Heritage Museum has an exhibit honoring the three Arizona sailors and other local men who served in World War II.
Sources: Special thanks to the Pine River Valley Heritage Museum; Ellen Frahm; Tony Schrier; the Pine River Times; the Durango (Colorado) Herald; Hutchinson (Kansas) News Herald; Census; Navy muster rolls; cemetery cenotaphs. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.