SC3c Herman Oliver Koeppe

Unknown Sailor

SC3c Herman Oliver Koeppe

Herman Oliver Koeppe was nice looking — a “sing-song,” as his mother, Martha, remembered him 50 years after his death.

Mr. Koeppe was a ship’s cook and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

His mother said the family received a telegram on Dec. 17 saying he was missing and then another on Dec. 22 confirming his death. Fifty years on, she couldn’t remember much about those notices, but she knew that her “Hermie” was a good boy and good looking.

He was born July 10, 1922. His father, Oscar Koeppe, was a carpenter and his mother, Martha Seward Koeppe, an upholsterer. The son quit school in Ottawa, Illinois 80 miles southwest of Chicago, to enlist in the Navy in October 1940.

Five thousand people looked on as his mother christened a tank landing ship, LST 198, in January 1943 as it was launched from the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. into the Illinois River at Seneca, Illinois 12 miles east of Ottawa.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2470 in Ottawa was dedicated in 1945 in memory of Mr. Koeppe and two other local men killed at Pearl Harbor. There is a cenotaph in his memory at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Ellwood, Illinois.


Sources: The Chicago Daily Tribune; The Times of Streator, Illinois; Census; Navy muster roll; cenotaph. 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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