Unknown Sailor

MUS2c Oran Merrill Brabbzson

Oran Merrill Brabbzson was the oldest of four siblings and the only son.

He was born July 14, 1922, to Oran Milton Brabbzson and Violet Knudsen Brabbzson.

He graduated in 1939 or 1940 from Hempstead, New York, High School, where he competed in several sports, belonged to the math and German clubs, and played in the orchestra and band.

Mr. Brabbzson joined the Navy in September 1940 and attended the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C, where he studied the french horn He was assigned to the band for the U.S.S. Arizona when it was formed in January 1941. Bandmates nicknamed him Buttercup because he got seasick.

When he was killed on the Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Mr. Brabbzson was a musician and petty officer second class. All 21 band members were killed when they hurried to their battle station in the ammunition hold, which exploded when the battleship was bombed.

His father had been an Army private in World War I and both parents were active in the American Legion at the time of their son’s death. The father was also a former commander of a Disabled American Veterans chapter in New York.

His parents were given their son’s purple heart in a brief ceremony arranged by the American Legion in July 1943 at the county courthouse in Mineola, NY. Violet Brabbzson volunteered there on Fridays at the war savings booth. The ceremony was arranged “to permit Mrs. Brabbzson to continue her stamp-selling duties without interruption,” an article in the Nassau Daily Review-Star explained.

Another Hempstead High student was killed on the Arizona. It isn’t clear whether Francis Lloyd Carey, born in 1919, stayed long enough to graduate. He enlisted in the Navy in December 1939 and was a storekeeper and petty officer third class when he died.

Sources: the Nassau (New York) Daily Review-Star; the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic; 1939 Hempstead High School yearbook; Census; Navy muster roll; Veterans Administration; father’s gravestone; “USS Arizona’s Last Band, the History of U.S. Navy Band Number 22,” by Molly Kent. Navy photo. 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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