Unknown Sailor

SC1c Thell Arnold

Thell Arnold, born Aug. 17, 1919, was two when his mother died, leaving his father with eight children, including an infant.

The father, Christopher Columbus Arnold, was a farmer in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, on the state line with Arkansas. The 1920 Census, conducted in March, said he was assisted at work by his three oldest sons. The mother, Mattie Pollock Arnold, died that October.

Tragedy struck again in December 1923 when the father died.

By 1930, Thell, then 11, was living with an older brother, Charley, and his own young family in Richland in northwest Arkansas. By 1937 Thell was in Kibler about 60 miles south near Fort Smith.

Thell enlisted in the Navy on March 11, 1938. A brief news story in May said he was the honor man in his company of 125 new recruits at the Naval Training Center in San Diego.

He was a ship’s cook and petty officer first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

At least two of his brothers also served in World War II — Zell in the Army and Ernest in the Navy.

Sources: the Southwest American of Fort Smith, Arkansas; the Reporter of Vacaville, California; Census; Navy muster roll; Gracelawn Cemetery in Van Buren, Arkansas; Bokoshe, Oklahoma, cemetery marker; Veterans Administration. Navy 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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