F2c Hurschel Woodrow Wilson

Unknown Sailor

F2c Hurschel Woodrow Wilson

When Hurschel Woodrow Wilson was a senior at McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio, population about 4,200, his classmates gave him a pretend present.

“To Woodrow ‘straight cut’ Wilson we give these shears, so he’ll be all ready to help his dad,” said the “gifts” section of the 1940 yearbook.

But Woodrow, as he was known, did not become a barber like his father, Harry. Instead, on Sept. 3, 1940 he traveled 60 miles west-southwest to Cincinnati with two other Greenfield teens and joined the Navy.

Mr. Wilson and his fellow 1940 graduate John A. Smith were killed on the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. James L. Wise was severely burned but survived. It isn’t clear whether he attended McClain High, but he was born a few months before Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson, born Sept. 10, 1922 in tiny Rainsboro about 8 miles south of Greenfield, spent all of his youth in the Greenfield area, and was a pitcher on the high school team. His mother, Retta, was a homemaker. By April 1935 the family lived in Greenfield.

Seven men from nearby communities in southwest Ohio served on the Arizona. James Lowell Flannery, Donald William Caplinger, Ralph Ernest Poole, and Mr. Smith also died. Wendell Lee Flannery (James’s brother) and Mr. Wise survived.


Sources: The Press-Gazette of Hillsboro, Ohio; US Census; McClain High yearbook; Ohio birth index. 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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