CTCP Lawrence Adolphus Nelson

Unknown Sailor

CTCP Lawrence Adolphus Nelson

Lawrence Adolphus “Jack” Nelson was a turret captain and chief petty officer on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He had been in the Navy since 1923, and before that served in the Army from 1916 to 1919.

Mr. Nelson was born April 11, 1895. His father, Walter, was a farmer and his mother, Hester, a homemaker. The young Mr. Nelson and his widow, Gippie Lee Wheeler Nelson, were from Coleman, Texas, a county seat 150 miles west-southwest of Fort Worth that grew from a population of about 3,000 in 1910-1920 to 6,000 in 1930. The couple’s permanent residence was in Southern California by the time of his death.

Mr. Nelson’s nephew, Grady Lee Nelson Jr., age 18, was also on the Arizona and was one of only 337 survivors of the attack on the ship. The chief had persuaded Grady Lee to join the Navy, and the seaman second class had been on the Arizona less than three months. Grady Lee survived two other harrowing attacks on his ships during the war and completed a 30-year Navy career. After he died in 1993, his ashes were placed inside the No. 4 gun turret on the Arizona.


Sources: The Times of Shreveport, Louisiana; Coleman County (Texas) Chronicle; the Honolulu Advertiser; the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; Coleman Democrat-Voice; Census; Defense Department. 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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