Russell McKinnie was born Nov. 15, 1921, in Rondo, Lee County, in east central Arkansas about 70 miles southwest of Memphis Tennessee.
He enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 18, 1939, and was a mess attendant second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Navy listed his father as Willie McKinnie, but no publicly available record identifies his mother.
Mr. McKinnie was African-American, which meant that from 1913, only one branch of service — mess attendant — was open to him in the segregated Navy. Mess attendants cooked, cleaned, and performed other services.
Sources: Veterans Administration; Department of Defense. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona