S2c Leland Good,

Unknown Sailor

S2c Leland Good

“Muriel, I probably won’t get home until next spring or summer. They have kinda tightened down again. Don’t think we’ll be in trouble for a long time yet if ever.”

So wrote Leland “Bud” Good in a last letter home to his half-sister a month before he was killed on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. He was 23 and a seaman second class.

In other letters to Muriel back in Wayne County, Illinois 100 miles east of St. Louis, Mr. Good told her about Hawaii — where it rained frequently but did not thunder, where there were plenty of pineapples and bananas but not the peaches and watermelons he loved.

Days before Christmas 1940, he wrote: “I wish you could see some of the X-mas decorating out here. They don’t cut the trees. They just rig them up as they stand. Some trees 50-60 feet high. It’s sure pretty to look off to a mountain top and see a bunch all lighted up. The grass is green as springtime. Doesn’t seem like December.”

His letters also described Navy life, as on Labor Day 1941, when he proudly wrote: “I’m nearing my first year in this man’s Navy. In my first year I made three advancements. Will make another in October if there is an opening, making $54 now with all expenses paid. Getting about 3,000 miles of cruising every month, which a lot of people would really pay to get.”

Still, Mr. Good was a young man 4,000 miles from his rural home. “WRITE!” he asked at the bottom of the letter.

He was born Oct. 8, 1918 to Almon Good, a farmer, and Adda Smith Jones, a homemaker. Her first husband was struck dead by lightning in 1913, leaving her with four children under age eight. She then married Almon Good, and they had two sons, George and Leland. Tragedy struck again in February 1919 when George, age three, died of pneumonia. And then, the day after Christmas, Adda died. She was 31.

There is a cenotaph for Mr. Good at Baltimore Cemetery in Wayne County.


Sources: Wayne & Hamilton Counties Illinois Story Tellers; Wayne County Press; grave markers; Census; Navy muster roll; Illinois death certificate. 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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