John Edward Burns was born May 4, 1915, in Pottsville in northeast Pennsylvania to John Francis Burns and Louise Mauger Burns.
The son played sports at St. Patrick’s High School and graduated in 1933. The family, which included three sisters who were all nurses, later moved about an hour south to Wilkes-Barre. The 1940 Census said the father was a railroad conductor and the son an assistant auto mechanic for a bus company. John Edward worked 20 weeks in 1939 and earned $500.He enlisted in the Navy in October 1940, trained at Newport, Virginia, and was aboard the U.S.S. Arizona by January 1941 at Bremerton, Washington . He was a fireman first class on the Arizona at when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. He had written home in November that he expected to be sent to a diesel school in San Diego.
Sources: the Wilkes-Barre (Pennsylvania) Times Leader and Evening News; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania World War II Veterans’ Compensation Bureau; Shamokin News-Dispatch of Shamokin, Pennsylvania; Pottsville (Pennsylvania) Republican; Census; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.