Walter Mindred Davis was born in Fulton, Missouri on July 7, 1919. His mother, Irene Harding Davis, was a homemaker and his father, Clarence R. Davis, a coal miner and later a farmer. Mindred, as he was known, was the oldest of their seven children.
By the time of the spring 1940 Census Mindred had completed 8th grade and was working as a plumber’s apprentice for a Public Works Administration project. The PWA contracted with companies to build bridges, hospitals, schools and other large projects during the Great Depression. He worked 40 weeks in 1939 and earned $880 — a good sum for a 20-year-old in those tough times. It’s equal to about $16,000 in 2020. His father also worked in construction and a sister was a waitress. Between them, they earned $1,830 — equal to about $33,500 in 2020 — to support a household of eight.
Mindred enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 15, 1940. He was a fireman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
At least one of his brothers, Don Russell, also served in the Navy during World War II.
Sources: The St. Louis Star and Times; the Mexico (Missouri) Ledger; Census; Navy muster roll; grave marker. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.