Peter John Harris was born Sept. 17, 1918, to Russian immigrants Peter Harris and Katherine Nein Harris.
His parents married in 1912 and soon came to the United States, settling in Lincoln, Nebraska. The 1920 Census said neither parent could read or write and that the father worked at a railroad roundhouse. Ten years later the father had learned to read and write in English.
Peter John, who was their oldest son, was baptized at Zion Congregational Church and attended Lincoln schools. He enlisted in the Navy in January 1940 and was a coxswain on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
His younger brother, John, graduated from Army flight school a year after Peter’s death. He served throughout World War II.
Sources: the Lincoln (Nebraska) Star; the Scottsbluff (Nebraska) Star Herald; Census; Navy muster roll; U.S. Defense Department. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.