S1c Jr. Michael Zwarun

Unknown Sailor

S1c Jr. Michael Zwarun

Michael Zwarun Jr. was born Oct. 10, 1919 in New Jersey. His father was a dye-maker and later a handyman while his mother, Josephine, was a homemaker. The parents were Ukranian-speaking immigrants from Austrian Galicia in what is now southeastern Poland and western Ukraine.

In 1930 the family lived in Linden, New Jersey west of Staten Island, New York. Michael Jr. graduated from Linden High School. In 1939 he worked 34 weeks as a painter for a contractor, earning $850 – the equivalent of about $16,400 in 2022 dollars. He joined the Navy on Aug. 8, 1940.

He was assigned to a destroyer, the U.S.S. Ellet, but was ordered in late November 1941 to stand trial at a court-martial. His alleged crimes were drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and swearing at the shore patrol. He was to be confined in the brig until trial, but the Ellet was too small to have one, so he was transferred on Nov. 27 to the much bigger Arizona. He died there on Dec. 7 in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The brig was three decks below the upper deck to the left of the No. 1 turret – the forward quarters, powder rooms, and fuel lockers that were blown up above Pearl Harbor before crashing below sea level. Mr. Zwarun was a seaman first class.


Sources: The Courier-News of Bridgewater, New Jersey; Newark News; Census; Navy muster rolls; “Battleship Arizona, An Illustrated History,” by Paul Stillwell. 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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