Unknown Sailor

PFC Robert Charles Erskine

Robert Charles Erskine was born Oct. 19, 1920 in Missouri to Leonard Erskine, a farmer, and Bertha Richey Erskine, a homemaker.

Both the 1930 and the 1940 Census show the family living in Chicago. The latter said the father was a shoe salesman, the mother a candy saleswoman, and the son a stock clerk at a mail-order business.

Robert was identified as a high school graduate who worked 40 weeks in 1939 and earned $388 — equivalent to about $7,000 in 2018 dollars.

He enlisted in the Marines on Oct. 7, 1940, and was a private first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. His body was one of the few recovered from the ship and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

He was a member of the ship’s whale boat team, which was runner-up that fall in Pacific fleet competition.

Mr. Erskine’s father was a World War I veteran.

Sources: Census; U.S.S. Arizona muster roll; grave marker; Missouri death certificate. Marine 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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