S1c Robert Fredrick Hunter,
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S1c Robert Fredrick Hunter
Robert Fredrick Hunter hoped that the battleship on which he served as a seaman first class would make it to San Pedro, California before Christmas.
If the U.S.S. Arizona got that far, his uncle, William W. Saunders, was ready to loan him the money to travel to Detroit for the holiday.
The Arizona’s departure from Honolulu kept getting delayed, though, and the ship was still berthed at Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, killing Mr. Hunter and 1,176 of his shipmates.
He was born Jan. 10, 1923 in Summit County, Ohio south of Cleveland. His mother, Florence Faith Saunders Hunter, divorced his father, Howard, on June 12, and in October 1923 when living in Cuyahoga Falls north of Akron married Robert T. Smith of Akron.
Young Robert attended Henry Elementary School in Akron. As of April 1940 his mother and step-father were still in Akron with his step-sister and step-brother. After April but by October 1940 he was living in Detroit and working at his uncle’s gas station. He enlisted on Nov. 27, 1940.
His older brother Richard served in the Navy during World War II and survived.
Sources: the Detroit Free Press; the Detroit Times; The Akron Beacon Journal; Ohio marriage and birth records; Navy muster roll. Navy records in 1942 and circa 1990 show his middle name as Frederick, but it’s Fredrick in the ship’s muster roll and according to the National Park Service. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.