S1c John Peter Rutkowski

Unknown Sailor

S1c John Peter Rutkowski

John Peter Rutkowski was born Feb. 9, 1918 in Nanticoke, a coal-mining town near Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania.

His father, Frank Rutkowski, was a miner and Polish immigrant. His mother, Anna Markiewicz Rutkowski, was a homemaker and native Pennsylvanian.

Their eldest son, also named Frank, was 16 when he died of pneumonia in 1931. The father died in 1939 of tuberculosis.

John, the second eldest of four sons, quit school after his junior year to work at the General Cigar Co. in Nanticoke. He was a conditioner — a person who sprays tobacco to make it pliable — and earned $500 working 52 weeks in 1939. Another brother, Edmund, also quit high school to work by the spring of 1940.

John, known around town as Tarzan, enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 16, 1940. 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.

He was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, now known as St. Faustina.

Brother Edmund served in the Army from 1943 through 1945.

Sources: the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader; Census; Navy muster roll; death certificates; Pennsylvania veteran’s grave registration record. 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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