S2c R. L. Boydstun

Cousins Don Jasper Boydstun and R.L. Boydstun enlisted in the Navy on June 3, 1941.

Six months later the Fort Worth, Texas, teens were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Each was a seaman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona.

Don’s brother William was also at Pearl Harbor. He and his wife, Tylene, were at their home about a mile from Schofield barracks that Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, when the bombing began and dishes bounced off the shelves in their kitchen.

William Boydstun, who had already served seven years in the Army, survived that day.

But the heartache for his parents J.J. Boydstun, an oil refinery manager, and Ivy Ward Boydstun, a homemaker, had just begun.

Another son, Ward, an Army Air Force lieutenant stationed in Africa, was killed in January 1943 when the B-24 he was co-piloting went down over the Mediterranean. 

Then, on Jan. 21, 1945, William, by then a lieutenant commander, was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. It was his 31st birthday.

During the war the Boydstun brothers’ father, assisted by their mother, corresponded with 200 military members. She also participated in a Gold Star mothers group that made candy and dressings to ship overseas. When Mrs. Boydstun died in 1988 at the age of 98, her family said they still were in contact with some of the men who received their mail.

Only one Boydstun brother who served in World War II, Robert, survived. Bob Boydstun joined the Marines after his baby brother and cousin were killed at Pearl Harbor. Wounded at Iwo Jima, Bob was a captain when the war ended and he was discharged. The Boystun family also included one older son and one daughter.

Cousin R.L. also had a brother, James, who served in the Navy and survived the war. They were the sons of Edgar Boydstun, a carpenter, and Verna Matlock Boydstun, a homemaker.

R.L. Boydstun was born June 14, 1923. Don J. Boydstun was born June 7, 1922. Cenotaphs for the cousins are at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Fort Worth. Their bodies remain on the Arizona.

Sources: the Midland (Texas) Reporter-Telegram; The Amarillo (Texas) Globe-Times; the Shiner (Texas) Gazette; the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram; Texas birth and death certificates; Navy muster roll; Census. Naval History and Heritage Command 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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