CBMP Joseph John Ruskey

Unknown Sailor

CBMP Joseph John Ruskey

Joseph John Ruskey was born Feb. 2, 1901 in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania. His father, also named Joseph, was a coal miner and his mother, Agnes, a homemaker. The parents, immigrants from Lithuania, had seven children. They eventually settled in Port Griffith on the Susquehanna River northeast of Wilkes-Barre.

The father was seriously injured in 1916 in a mine accident that left him with fractured ribs and internal injuries. He died the next April of heart disease and chronic emphysema. 

The 1920 Census for Jenkins Township said the mother was the head of a household that included six of her children and two boarders. Son Joseph worked as a runner at a coal mine and a teen sister worked at a silk mill. 

It’s unclear when Joseph enlisted in the Navy, but his name appeared on a 1921 list for a transport carrying sailors through the Panama Canal Zoned when he was a seaman second class.

He married Helen Allen in August 1930 at Bremerton, Washington near Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Their daughter was born in December 1931.

Mr. Ruskey’s mother died in October 1933.

He  was a boatswain’s mate and chief petty officer on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Ruskey is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

Sources: the Pittston (Pennsylvania) Gazette; Pennsylvania death certificate; Census; grave markers; ship transport list; Washington marriage license. Editor’s note: All Navy records say Ruskey was the last name, but older public records spell it many ways, including, Resuskey, Ruckaes, Ruskis and Rusykis. His mother’s last name also had variations — Rakauskiute; Rakauskas and Rocotsky. 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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