MATT2c Reliford Fields,
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MATT2c Reliford Fields
Reliford “Peanut” Fields left his home in Quincy, Florida northwest of Tallahassee in 1935 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era federal jobs program. After an honorable discharge he worked for the North Florida Experiment Station, then in October 1939 joined the Navy.
He was a mess attendant second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Fields was born April 4, 1918, to Jessie and Mary Fields. The 1920 Census said both parents were laborers at a tobacco factory in Quincy, a town of 3,000. As a child, Reliford sold peanuts all over town, so “he knew everybody.” He gave up peanut sales to work at a drug store on the town square before joining the CCC.
Mr. Fields was a messman because as an African-American that was the only job open to him in the segregated Navy. Messmen cooked, cleaned, and performed other services. The messman branch accepted men who were black, Filipino or Guamanian. They could advance to become a steward or cook for officers and up to petty officer first class, but that was the limit.
Sources: Census; Navy muster roll; The Gadsden County (Florida) Times; U.S. Department of Defense. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.