S2c Harvey Leroy Skeen

Unknown Sailor

S2c Harvey Leroy Skeen

Harvey Leroy Skeen was eight when his father, William, a blacksmith, died of chronic myocarditis at age 43, leaving his mother with six children in the central Arizona mining town of Miami.

Lura Agatha Holden Skeen supported the family by cleaning houses, painting, cooking, and sewing. She also worked for the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era federal jobs program.

Mrs. Skeen and her two oldest sons — Edgar and Harvey Leroy — built their house, which they finished in 1938. “We’d work on the house in the evenings,” she told a reporter for the Arizona Silver Belt many years later. “We moved in when the floor was down and the roof on. There were no windows or doors, but we moved in because the lumber was getting stolen.” She had purchased the wood on credit and proudly repaid the debt over time.

Harvey Leroy, born Jan. 26, 1924 in Lassen County in Northern California, graduated from high school in nearby Globe, Arizona in 1941 and enlisted in the Navy on June 13 of that year. He was a seaman second class when he was killed on the U.S.S. Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. He was still just 17.

“It was the way he was supposed to go,” his mother recalled 37 years later. “It was the good Lord’s will.”

The sailor was honored at a memorial service in April 1942 at the First Baptist Church in Miami. 

Sources: Arizona Silver Belt; the Arizona Republic of Phoenix; California birth certificate; Arizona death certificate; Census; Navy muster roll; VA death file. 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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