Two Becker brothers died on the U.S.S. Arizona when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. A third brother had shore leave that day and survived.
The brothers were born near Nekoma in central Kansas to William Becker, a farmer, and Freda Paulsen Becker, a homemaker and German immigrant. They had four other children.
The oldest of the three brothers at Pearl Harbor was the survivor, Harvey, born in 1916. He enlisted in 1938 and was a gunner’s mate and petty officer second class at the time of the attack. He was with his wife, Marie, a nurse, in Honolulu that morning.
The second brother to enlist, Marvin Otto Becker, was born Oct. 19, 1918. He graduated from high school, then enlisted in December 1939 and followed in the footsteps of Harvey to become a gunner’s mate at the initial position as a petty officer third class.
The third brother, Wesley Paulson Becker, was born Aug. 20, 1922. He enlisted in January 1941 and was a seaman first class.
The family back in Kansas did not know the fate of their sons and brothers until two days after the attack, when Harvey was able to call to say he had searched hospitals and barracks but was unable to find Marvin or Wesley. The Navy officially declared them missing just before Christmas.
The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organized a public memorial service for the fallen brothers at the La Crosse City Auditorium in February 1942. The service closed with the audience singing God Bless America.
Harvey made the Navy his career. He died in 1979.
A younger brother, Bob, enlisted in the Navy when he was 17 — over his mother’s opposition. He finished basic training just as the war ended.