Y3c Joseph Claude Iak,

Unknown Sailor

Y3c Joseph Claude Iak

The 1937 yearbook at Washington High School in Washington in northwest New Jersey, included a famous quotation alongside a photo and short description of every senior.

Graduate Joseph Claude Iak’s section featured these words by the Anglo-Irish poet and novelist Oliver Goldsmith: “Heroes themselves had fallen behind! Whene’er he went before.”

Mr. Iak left home on Dec. 13, 1939 to enlist in the Navy. He was a yeoman and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

He was born May 16, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York to Harold Iak, a knitter at a hosiery mill, and Margaret Smith Iak, a homemaker. By 1930 the family had moved to New Jersey, where the father did similar work.

Joseph lettered in football and basketball in high school and also ran track. He was in the science club, the operetta, and the yearbook advertising committee, among other activities. “He has the ability to speak clearly and interestingly and this will carry him far,” the yearbook predicted.


Sources: The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, New York; Washington High yearbook; Census; Navy muster roll; New York birth index. 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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