GM2c John Henry Sidell


GM2c John Henry Sidell

John Henry Sidell was born Aug. 23, 1918 in rural Colorado to Pearl Templeton Sidell, a homemaker, and Arthur Sidell, a farmer. He was the oldest of six children.

By March 1920 the family lived in Beaver, a tiny and now-vanished settlement in Washington County, population 11,200, about 100 miles east of Denver. There were almost 4½ residents per square mile.

By 1930 the family had moved to Douglas County, Illinois and the father worked as a store clerk in Villa Grove, a town of circa 2,000 about 80 miles east of Springfield.

John Henry was president of his sophomore and senior classes at Villa Grove High School. He ran track, sang in the glee club, and played football all four years. The 1937 yearbook predicted he would be “Our greatest pride. He’s a second ‘Red Grange” –  the All-American halfback at the University of Illinois in the 1920s who then starred in pro football.

Mr. Sidell enlisted in the Navy on May 15, 1939. He was a gunner’s mate and petty officer second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

His brother Douglas was an Army corporal when he was seriously wounded by a missile in 1950. He returned to the United States to recover, then went to Japan, where he fell ill in August 1951. He died in October 1952 in Denver, survived by his young Japanese wife.

Another brother, Robert, served in the Coast Guard during World War II. Brother Carleton, born in 1937, served in the Air Force and the National Guard.

Sources: The Decatur (Illinois) Herald; the Journal Gazette of Mattoon, Illinois; Census; Navy muster roll. Villa Grove (Illinois) High School yearbook photograph. 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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