BM1c James Albert Martin

Unknown Sailor

BM1c James Albert Martin

James Albert Martin spent his adult life aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.

Mr. Martin was born Oct. 12, 1914, and enlisted in the Navy in 1933. He went aboard the battleship that summer. Albert, as he was known, was a boatswain’s mate and petty officer first class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

The San Angelo (Texas) Standard Times reported that he was a deep sea diver and was commended for bravery in May 1941 when he helped rescue the crew of a boat grounded on a reef. He swam a line from a salvage boat through heavy surf to the stranded sailors.

For fun, he played left end on the Arizona’s football team, which competed against teams from other ships. In January 1940 he was among 32 football players, five boxers, and six wrestlers awarded letter sweaters. 

“The sweaters are of excellent material and workmanship, and have been purchased by Welfare Funds to express the appreciation and esteem in which our athletes are held by the ship’s company,” At ‘Em Arizona, the ship’s newsletter, reported in January 1940. “The recipients will wear them with pride and satisfaction that will increase as the years roll by. If they are careful they may even be able to hand them on to their sons.”

Mr. Martin’s father, James E. Martin, was a rancher, and his mother, Maggie Simpson Martin, a homemaker. HIs mother, widowed in 1937 when flu killed her husband, was living in San Angelo at the time of her son’s death.


Sources: San Angelo (Texas) Standard Times; Census; Navy muster rolls; Texas death certificate; Defense Department; At ‘Em Arizona newsletter of Jan. 27, 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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