ENS Robert Nicholas Jr. King

Unknown Sailor

ENS Robert Nicholas Jr. King

Robert Nicholas King Jr. had an interest in the sea even before he became an ensign on the U.S.S. Arizona.

He applied in 1933 for a seaman’s passport to work as an apprentice on a merchant ship. It isn’t clear whether he ever did join the American France Line because by 1935 he had graduated from Fordham University, where the yearbook said “Bob would rather, we surmise, be ‘down to the sea in ships’ or setting out the decoys of a November dawn.”

Mr. King enrolled in the summer of 1940 in a course to become a midshipman and was sent to Northwestern University for training. He was commissioned as an ensign in February 1941.

Mr. King died on Dec. 7, 1941 aboard the Arizona when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

He was born Feb. 24, 1914 in New York City. His father, Robert, was a lawyer and his mother, Evelyn, a homemaker. The younger King attended Regis High School and graduated from Xavier High School in 1932.

The 850 members of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at Xavier attended a Mass for him at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church on Dec. 16, 1941. His Fordham classmates organized a Mass in early 1942.

The Fordham yearbook said Mr. King possessed  “A rare mixture of dignity and steadfastness, brilliance and wit.”


Sources: New York Herald Tribune; The New York Times; Census; Regis High alumni newsletter; “The Maroon” yearbook at Fordham University; Fordham Ram newspaper; application for seaman’s protection certificate. Navy photograph. 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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