MLDR2c Paul Daniel Keller,


MLDR2c Paul Daniel Keller

On the day after Christmas 1941, Nettie Johnson Keller received two messages from the Navy that left her “torn between hope and resignation” about the fate of her son, Paul Daniel Keller.

One telegram said that Mr. Keller, a molder and petty officer second class on the U.S.S. Arizona, was missing in action after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. The second, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, said “possibly he may have been picked up by an outgoing vessel.”

The truth was that Mr. Keller was killed when the Arizona was bombed, blew up, and sank.

He had served in the Michigan National Guard until September 1939, then enlisted in the Navy in January 1940.

He was born April 19, 1918 in Calhoun, Michigan 110 miles west of Detroit. His mother was a homemaker and his father, John Keller, a foundry superintendent. The parents divorced when Paul was 13, and he and a younger sister remained with their mother. His father died of a heart attack in early 1938.

On the 7th anniversary of her cousin’s death, Jacqueline Keller enlisted in the Women in the Air Force (commonly known as the WAF).


Sources: the Detroit Free Press; the Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer; Census; Navy muster roll; Michigan divorce record, Veterans Administration. Photo courtesy of Owen Marquette. 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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