MATT1c Henry Jr. Jones,

Unknown Sailor

MATT1c Henry Jr. Jones

Henry Jones Jr. was born about October 1919 in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish in almost the exact center of Louisiana and about 115 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.

Henry Jones Sr. was a foundry laborer age 28 on Jan. 1, 1920 and a renter who could neither read nor write. His wife, Helen, was 25 and a homemaker who could read and write. Both parents and their parents were born in Louisiana.

By 1920 the family included Alice age 7; Andrew almost 4; and Henry Jr., 2 months old. By 1930 at a new address a bit over 2 miles southeast, the family included three more daughters. By 1935 Henry Jr. was still in Alexandria. On Nov. 5, 1938 in New Orleans he enlisted in the Navy. By April 1940 he was stationed at the San Diego Naval Training Station. He was a mess attendant who in 1939 earned $240 for 52 weeks work. He was likely still entry level because another mess attendant earned $594 in 1939 and two others $432 each.

Mr. Jones married Mae Ethel Harris, a native Texan, in Yuma, Arizona, on May 17, 1941. They both lived in Long Beach, California next to the U.S.S. Arizona’s home port at San Pedro. The groom said he was Negro and the bride said she was Caucasian despite Arizona laws banning the marriage of Caucasians with Negroes, Hindus, Mongolians, Malays, or Indians. 

Less than six months later, Mr. Jones was a mess attendant first class on the Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Mrs. Jones remained in Long Beach, working as a seamstress, for at least two years after her husband’s death.

In the armed services segregated by the Wilson Administration, messman was the only branch of the Navy open to Mr. Jones. Sailors in the messman branch cooked, cleaned, and performed other services. They were prohibited from advancing to higher skilled and better paid jobs other than as stewards or cooks for officers up to petty officer first class – but could not become chief petty officers.


Sources: This profile is based on the ship’s final muster roll, the couple’s marriage license, Long Beach city directories, and Census records for 1920, 1930, 1935, and 1940. 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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