S1c James Austin Menefee

Unknown Sailor

S1c James Austin Menefee

James Austin Menefee was born Sept. 6, 1922 at Fairbury in southeast Nebraska. His mother, Ethel Palmer Menefee, was a homemaker and his father, Cecil Lafayette Menefee, a grocery store employee.

The parents divorced in March 1926. The 1930 Census said James, his mother, and a younger brother lived with his widowed grandfather in Fairbury, a town of about 6,000 roughly 65 miles southwest of Lincoln.

It’s unclear where James lived after that. He enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 16, 1939 at Nashville, Tennessee. He was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Navy records say he was from Mississippi, though it seems unlikely he ever lived there. His father lived in Russell, Kansas in April 1935 and in Memphis at the time of the 1940 Census, but was in Jackson, Mississippi when James was killed. His mother lived in Roanoke, Virginia in 1937 and by at least 1944 lived in Ohio.

Mr. Menefee’s brother, Richard, was a radioman and petty officer second class in the Navy during World War II.


Sources: The Fairbury (Nebraska) Journal; the Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette; U.S. Veterans Administration master index; Nebraska Birth Index; Census; Navy muster roll; Roanoke, Virginia, city directory; Ohio marriage licenses; grave marker; the Jackson (Mississippi) Daily News. The Veterans Administration says Mr. Menefee was born Sept. 6, 1921, which would be 72 days after his parents married. The Nebraska Birth Index says he was born Sept. 6, 1922, a date that fits his age in the 1930 Census. 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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