“This Navy is really the life,” Richard Stanton Sherven wrote to a buddy less than a month before he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Mr. Sherven also shared his excitement about being promoted to electrician’s mate 3rd class aboard the U.S.S. Arizona. “…quite a change especially in pay. I jumped from 36 to 60 bucks a month. There’s some real liberties ahead,” he wrote.
In his short letter to Harold Skogstad back in Sanish, North Dakota, he also mentioned that it was impossible to pick up a girl in Hawaii. “There’s a damn good supply of cat houses here,” he wrote, then added “but I don’t go in for that kind of muggin’ very much.” Indeed, plenty of young Navy men were disappointed to discover that Hawaii wasn’t an island paradise full of women; there were 138 males for every 100 females in 1940.
Mr. Sherven was born Nov. 29, 1921, in McKenzie County in far northwest North Dakota. His father, Helge, was a farmer and Norwegian immigrant. His mother, Marie, was a homemaker.
Mr. Sherven was in school in early 1940 and working as a high school janitor. He enlisted on Oct. 8, 1940.
There is a cenotaph in his memory at Good Hope Cemetery in McKenzie County, North Dakota. His parents are buried there.
Sources: Thank you to second cousin KeLynda O’Donnell for sharing the photograph. Other sources: Harold Skogstad papers at the State Historical Society of North Dakota; 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.