S1c Mark Alexander Rhodes

Unknown Sailor

S1c Mark Alexander Rhodes

Arthur Rhodes died of pneumonia in September 1927, leaving his widow, Stella Lyda Rhodes, with six children between the ages of three and 18.

The four boys all worked to keep their farm in western North Carolina going, the youngest child, Mary, recalled years later. “We had a real hard life,” she told a newspaper reporter.

The oldest son, David, joined the Army the next summer, and the other three eventually enlisted, too.

The youngest, Mark Alexander, born March 7, 1920, graduated from high school before enlisting in the Navy in late November 1939.

He was a seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. His body was recovered and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

The family was officially notified of his death in a telegram sent through the Post Office on Dec. 16. There was no phone at their home in Edneyville, a township of fewer than 2,000 in Henderson County less than 20 miles southeast of Asheville.

Her big brother was “outgoing and enjoyed life,” Mary said. “Before the attack, he was getting tired of the Pacific. He was homesick.”

Brother Chester was a master sergeant in the Army Air Corps and was released from service about two months after World War II ended in 1945. David completed 20 years of Army service in 1948.

Jay, in the Marines since 1934, served throughout World War II, including at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Okinawa. He was a technical sergeant in the Korean War when he died in September 1951 of wounds suffered during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.

Their mother lived to age 90, outliving all but her eldest son. She and her husband are buried at  Barnwell Baptist Church Cemetery in Henderson County. A cenotaph in memory of Mark was erected there on the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5206 in Hendersonville was named in honor of Mark Rhodes and another local man, Paul Hedrick, also killed on the Arizona.


Sources: the Hendersonville (North Carolina) News; the Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times; military enlistment records; grave markers; Census; North Carolina 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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