MATT1c Louis Means

Unknown Sailor

MATT1c Louis Means

Louis Means was born Sept. 12, 1920 in Houston, Texas. His father, Eddie Means, worked at a lumber yard for many years, and his mother, Sadie Denman Means, was a cook.

The mother died in February 1930, and the Census that spring said Louis and two brothers lived with their maternal grandmother, Lillian Denman, in Houston. She died in February 1935.

Louis Means enlisted in the Navy in September 1939, four days after his 19th birthday. He was a mess attendant first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Means was African-American, which meant that only one branch of service — messmen — was open to him in the segregated Navy. Messmen cooked, cleaned and performed other services. They might become a petty officer first class as an officer’s steward or officer’s cook, but were prohibited from advancing to other jobs with higher skill and pay.

His brothers Eddie Jr. and Clarence also served in the war. Eddie Jr. became a corporal in the Army Air Corps and served from October 1942 through September 1945. Clarence became a staff sergeant in the Army and served from August 1940 through April 1943.


Sources: U.S. Veterans Administration master index; Census; Texas death certificates; World War I and World War I military registration cards; Houston city directories; grave markers; the Houston Chronicle. 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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