ENS Theodore Lucian Nowosacki

Unknown Sailor

ENS Theodore Lucian Nowosacki

Carol Virginia Nowosacki was born nearly three months after her father, Theodore Lucian  Nowosacki, was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. He was an ensign on the U.S.S. Arizona.

Mr. Nowosacki was born Feb. 10, 1915 in Albany, New York. His father, Wojciech Nowosacki, was a laborer, including on tunnel construction. His mother, Jadwiga, was a homemaker. They were Polish immigrants.

By 1919 the family, which included a younger brother, Henry, had moved to New York City and lived in Lower Manhattan near the access ways to the Williamsburg Bridge. (Henry also went on to serve in the Navy.) Theodore earned a bachelor of science degree in 1940 from the School of Education at New York University, where he was a varsity wrestler.

He then completed a four-month Naval Reserve training program to become an ensign. With the threat of war looming, the Navy aimed to train 9,000 ensigns in two years. Mr. Nowosacki and 409 other men were commissioned in June 1941 on the Hudson River on the U.S.S. Prairie State, a training ship that in 1901 began its Naval career as a battleship, the U.S.S. Illinois. The New York Times reported that “There was little of the festive spirit that usually accompanies the colorful graduation ceremonies at Annapolis.”

Rear Admiral Adolphus Andrews “warned the mothers and fathers and sweethearts of the new officers that because the young men had answered the call of the country to serve in the time of national emergency they ‘may face grim days ahead.’ ”

A requiem Mass honored Mr. Nowosacki in late December at St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Catholic Church in the East Village. A bronze plaque was installed in his memory in March 1942 at NYU in a ceremony attended by his widow, Doris. They had married shortly before he was commissioned.

Their daughter traveled to Pearl Harbor in 1991 on the 50th anniversary of the attack. “I’ve always put it off for emotional reasons,” Carol told a reporter. “I wasn’t ready.”

Before Carol died at age 70 she asked relatives to scatter some of her ashes at Pearl Harbor.


Sources: The Tablet of Brooklyn, New York; The New York Times; the Associated Press; the New York Herald Tribune; Dignity Memorial obituary; Census; Navy muster roll; petition for U.S. citizenship. Photograph from the National Parks Service. 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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