Richard James Ahern was born Oct. 2, 1921 in rural Gurley, Nebraska in the state’s western panhandle to James Ahern, a farmer, and Sadie Penry Ahern, a homemaker. He was the oldest of five children and the only son.
The family moved to California after 1935, and Richard attended Van Nuys High School. The 1938 yearbook identified him as a sophomore.
He enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 10, 1939, and was a fireman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
One sister, Margaret, attended nursing school during World War II and eventually joined the Air Force as a flight nurse. She achieved the rank of captain during the Korean War.
Sources: The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California; Mercy College of Nursing in San Diego, California; 1942 Van Nuys High School yearbook; Census; Navy muster roll. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.