PHM3c Lawrence John Cihlar

Lawrence John Cihlar was a well behaved “mama’s boy,” his brother, Leonard, recalled on the 75th anniversary of his death in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Cihlar was a pharmacist’s mate and petty officer 3rd class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941.

“I was awfully proud of him,” Leonard told a reporter for the Albert Lea (Minnesota) Tribune.

Lawrence was born April 11, 1920 and Leonard in 1928. Their mother, Mildred E. Prchal Cihlar, was a homemaker, and their father, John Cihlar, a delivery man for an oil company. The first son was born about 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis in either Cedar Lake Township or nearby New Prague, but later the family mostly lived in Albert Lea, then a town of about 1,600 some 80 miles south near the Illinois border.

Lawrence graduated from high school and on Sept. 13, 1939, enlisted in the Navy. At the time of the spring 1940 Census he was a hospital apprentice at a Navy hospital in San Diego. He went aboard the Arizona that December.

Family tragedy struck again in the fall of 1943 when the father, then 50, died of an accidental gunshot wound while hunting.

Son Leonard said that when he heard about his brother’s death, he knew he wanted to join the Navy, and did so in November 1945, a few months after he turned 17. He served until November 1947.

Sources: the Star Tribune of Minneapolis; the Albert Lea Tribune; Census; Navy muster roll; funeral home death notice. 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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