S1c Joseph Jordan Lakin

Unknown Sailor

S1c Joseph Jordan Lakin

The Lakin brothers — Donald Lapier and Joseph Jordan — joined the Navy three days apart in November 1940 and boarded the U.S.S. Arizona the next month. They were working together the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Both were badly burned and died that day, but one of them – it’s not known which – died on the U.S.S. Solace, a hospital ship anchored ¼ mile north of the Arizona. They were both seamen first class. Donald’s oil-saturated watch and Joseph’s ring were returned to their father, Joseph Jerdon Lakin, in the spring of 1942. They are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

Donald was born June 7, 1917 and Joseph on Oct. 17, 1919, both in Kansas. The family, which included an older sister, moved to San Bernardino, California for two years about 1920, then returned to Kansas, where in 1925 their father was a fruit farmer near Marion 50 miles northeast of Wichita. Their mother, Blanche Reish Lakin, a teacher before her marriage, died in late 1935, at least eight months after the family moved to Wathena, Kansas, population 860, across the Missouri River from St. Joseph, Missouri.. 

The boys played on the football team at the Wathena High School. “Don,” as he was known to friends, graduated in 1936 and “Junior” in 1938.

By 1940, they had moved to Ontario, California, where Donald worked as a salesman and his brother as a laborer at a bowling alley. Junior earned $240 in 1939. The brothers also worked with their father in the grounds department at Pomona College.

Their father was a private in the Marine Corps from 1904 to 1906 in the Midway Islands and in Honolulu. His granite headstone was shipped to Ontario 10 years to the day after the death of his two sons.


Sources: The Wathena (Kansas) Times; The San Bernardino (California) Sun; the Claremont (California) Courier; Navy muster rolls; U.S. and Kansas Census, Marine and Navy headstone applications; voter registration; Hiawatha (Kansas) Daily Record; Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe; grave markers. 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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