WT2c Norman Roi Morse

Unknown Sailor

WT2c Norman Roi Morse

Anyone who reads the diaries of Clara May Dyer Morse will get a sense of the crushing pain she endured after the death of her sons Francis and Norman in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mrs. Morse had already suffered the death of her husband, Royal “Roy,” in an accident in 1930. She moved her sons, born in Lamar in southeast Colorado, 170 miles northwest to Denver, where they attended East High School.

Then, as soon as each boy turned 17, she gave him permission to join the Navy. Francis Jerome, born Nov. 22, 1919, enlisted in December 1936. Norman Roi, born July 19, 1921, enlisted in August 1938. Mrs. Morse even moved to Long Beach, California, the home base of their ship, the U.S.S. Arizona, so she could see them whenever it was in port.

When he died, Francis was a boatswain’s mate and petty officer first class. Norman was a watertender and petty officer second class.

On the day of the attack, Mrs. Morse wrote in her diary that she would never “sing before breakfast again” as she had that morning.

After their deaths, she became a Red Cross nurse’s aide and served military men in hospitals from Colorado to California, and from Virginia to North Carolina. And she kept writing in her diaries, which were donated after her death in 1982 to the Colorado Historical Society.

This is one entry, from Dec. 7, 1946: “I’m tired and ready to quit. I don’t want to go on. Well I simply must pull myself together and carry on… The whole world has gone wild, or else I look at it this way. What a dull life yet I’ve had a good full life, thank you God for loaning them for even a short time. Good night, Dear Ones.”

Francis was also survived by his widow, Dorothy Marjorie. They married in August 1939 in Los Angeles.

The father, Royal, was a private in 12th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish-American War. 

There are cenotaphs for the brothers at Arlington National Cemetery.


Sources: “Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing,” published by the Colorado Historical Society; the Denver Post; Census records; grave markers; headstone application for military veterans. 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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