Jay Edgar Alley was “a good lookin’ hunk of a man,” his sister Mary Alley Gibson recalled years after his death on the U.S.S. Arizona.
“He had 500 girlfriends. I don’t know how he kept them all separated!” she told WIS TV in Columbia, South Carolina.
Mr. Alley was a gunner’s mate first class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
He was born Feb. 1, 1916, in Iredell County, North Carolina, to Lonnie Alley, a farmer, and Patsy Hager Alley, a homemaker.
He enlisted in 1935 and went aboard the Arizona on Feb. 24, 1936. For fun, he competed on the ship’s rifle team, which competed against teams from other battleships.
His sister was six when he was killed, but her grief was so great that even 71 years later she said that she tried to put every Dec. 7th out of her mind.
Sources: WIS TV; Census; North Carolina birth index; Department of Defense; Navy muster roll; grave marker; At ‘Em Arizona newsletters of Feb. 24, 1936 and May 18, 1940. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.