Jack Bertrand Sniff was a man of many talents, a skilled athlete with a passion for music. Born on February 22, 1922, he spent his early years on his family’s farm near the small village of Speer in Valley Township, Stark County, Illinois. He was the second son of Martin Leo Sniff, a hardworking farmer, and Martha Eunice Hinman Sniff, a devoted homemaker.
Growing up, Jack showed a natural aptitude for sports, excelling as both a basketball and baseball player at Princeville High School. His talent on the field was so impressive that he even tried out to pitch for the Chicago White Sox. However, his dreams of playing professional baseball were cut short when he was told he wasn’t heavy enough and advised to go home and work out on the farm.
Undeterred, Jack decided to follow a different path and enlisted in the Marines. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a corporal and field musician, displaying his musical talents as a bugler on the U.S.S. Arizona. He also served as an anti-aircraft gunner, demonstrating his bravery and dedication to his country.
Sadly, Jack’s life was cut tragically short on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was serving on the U.S.S. Arizona at the time of the attack and lost his life in the line of duty. The news of his passing devastated his family and friends, who remembered him as a kind and talented young man with a bright future ahead of him.
Despite the sadness and loss that came with his death, Jack’s memory lived on through the many lives he touched during his short time on earth. His brother Ralph, who also served in World War II, remembered him as a beloved sibling and talented musician. Ralph survived the war and went on to live a long and fulfilling life, but he never forgot his brother and the sacrifice he made for his country.
In May of 1942, a memorial service was held in Jack’s honor at the Presbyterian Church in Princeville. Family, friends, and members of the community came together to pay their respects to the fallen Marine, remembering him as a brave and selfless young man who gave his life in service to his country.
Today, Jack Bertrand Sniff’s memory lives on as a reminder of the sacrifice and bravery of the men and women who served in World War II. Though he was taken too soon, his life and legacy continue to inspire generations of Americans to honor and respect those who have served their country with dedication and honor.
NOTE: If you are a family member related to this crew member of the U.S.S. Arizona, or have additional information, pictures or documents to share about his life or service to our county please contact us through our FAMILY MEMBER SUBMISSION FORM.
Wyoming Post Herald of Wyoming, Illinois; the Chicago Tribune; Stark County News of Toulon, Illinois; Census; grave marker; Marine muster rolls. Marine photograph. This profile was rewritten by “Operation 85” from the original sourced profile written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.