SM3c Robert Lee Hebel,
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SM3c Robert Lee Hebel
Robert Lee Hebel’s love of the U.S.S. Arizona dated to a 1934 romantic comedy, “Here Comes the Navy,” filmed, in part, aboard the battleship.
Robert told his stepfather, Cyril Hebel, that when he was old enough he was going to join the Navy and hoped to serve on the Arizona.
His plan came to fruition after he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in August 1940. His enlistment photograph has all the tough-guy seriousness of James Cagney, the star of “Here Comes the Navy.”
Mr. Hebel became a signalman and petty officer third class on the Arizona, but his dream ended on Dec. 7, 1941 when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was born in Chicago on May 14, 1922 to Arthur Galvin and Alice Voss Galvin. Their marriage was brief, however, and the boy was raised by his mother and stepfather.
He attended Harper High School on the city’s southside and was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. The 1940 Census said he had completed two years of high school and worked for 40 weeks in 1939 doing general office chores at a printing company. Mr. Hebel also had a summer job as a security guard at the roller rink at White City Amusement Park. He planned to marry his girlfriend after he left the Navy.
Mr. Hebel was honored at a Mass at St. Theodore Catholic Church in 1943.
His half-brothers, Donald and James, also served in the Navy in World War II.
Sources: Special thanks to a niece, Linda Jean Homerding. Other sources include: the Chicago Tribune; the Suburbanite Economist of Chicago; Census; Navy service records; Navy muster roll; Illinois birth index; grave marker; U.S. Defense Department. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.