CPL James Francis Mccarrens

Unknown Sailor

CPL James Francis Mccarrens

After James Francis McCarrens left Ottawa, Illinois about 70 miles southwest of Chicago in September 1939 to enlist in the Marines, he made it his practice to write to his parents every Saturday.

In a letter dated Nov. 29, 1941 from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he was a corporal on the U.S.S. Arizona, he wrote that he had nearly finished addressing 40 Christmas cards and needed to buy more. He mentioned that the battleship had been out to sea — part of training exercises with other ships. “Nothing much doing, but continuous condition watches,” he wrote.  And he opined that “The Japanese situation appears at this writing to have reached a stalemate.”

“Gee, it’s a year since I’ve heard either of your voices,” he concluded. “That’s too darn long as far as I’m concerned. Aloha and Goodbye. Affectionately, Jim.”

The letter arrived after Mr. McCarrens was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

He was born March 5, 1916, the youngest of six children. His father, George, worked for a glass manufacturer in Ottawa, which has been a major center for glass and sand since the early 1900s. By the time of the 1930 Census, both George McCarrens and his two oldest sons worked in the glass industry. The mother, Margaret Keller McCarrens, was a homemaker. Before James enlisted, he attended Ottawa Township High School and worked at an ice cream store.

There is a cenotaph in Mr. McCarrens’ memory at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois about 40 miles east of Ottawa.


Sources: The Times of Streator, Illinois; The Times of Ottawa, Illinois; Census; cenotaph; Marine photo. 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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