CAPT(CHC) Thomas Leroy Kirkpatrick


CAPT(CHC) Thomas Leroy Kirkpatrick

Chaplain Thomas LeRoy Kirkpatrick was on the stern of the U.S.S. Arizona the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 preparing for that day’s service when a bomb hit the nearby number four turret.

It was the beginning of the Japanese attack that killed Capt. Kirkpatrick and 1,176 other men  on the battleship.

“He died serving God and country,” one of the few Arizona survivors, Thomas Stanborough, wrote to Mr. Kirkpatrick’s widow, Genevieve.

Mr. Kirkpatrick was born July 5, 1887 in Cozad in central Nebraska to Newton Kirkpatrick, a teacher and carpenter, and Jennie Delk Kirkpatrick, a homemaker. The family moved to Colorado a few years later and he graduated from Colorado Springs High School in 1905. He was active in the Young Men’s Christian Association at Colorado College and graduated in 1911. He was also assistant editor of the school newspaper, and a member of Alpha Tau Delta fraternity and the glee club.

He became a missionary in Persia, serving for several years in Tabriz, before returning to the United States and attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was ordained by the Presbyterian church in 1918, the same year he joined the Navy and graduated from chaplain school.

He served in France during World War I — the first of many overseas and domestic assignments. His last posting was to the Arizona in August 1940. He served as a fleet chaplain, ministering to men in Battleship Division I on the Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

He was survived by his widow and a son, Thomas I. Kirkpatrick.

A destroyer escort was named in his honor in 1943.


Sources: the Honolulu Star-Bulletin; the Lincoln (Nebraska) Star; Presbyterians of the Past web site; Census; “The Love That Endures, Remembering my Mother and my Father, U.S.S. Arizona’s Chaplain at Pearl Harbor,” written by their son, Thomas I. Kirkpatrick. 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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