Walter Ray Barner was born Nov. 13, 1921, in Wichita Falls, Texas. His mother, Frances Dodd Barner, was then a homemaker and his father, Robert Barner, a house painter.
By the time of the spring 1940 Census, Walter had completed 8th grade and worked as a quarry laborer for the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was a Depression-era federal jobs program for young men. As in many families during that time, all adults in the household were working to make ends meet — the father and two older sons in construction, and the mother doing laundry out of their home. Four younger children were in school.
Walter enlisted in the Navy the day before his 18th birthday that fall. He went aboard the U.S.S. Arizona in January 1941 and was a seaman second class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
Three brothers also served during World War II — Roy in the Army Air Corps, Arthur in the Navy, and Joseph in the Marines. A sister, Gracie, worked during the war at a factory that made electric motors for bombs.
Sources: the Wichita (Texas) Daily Times; Census; muster rolls; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs death file; application for military headstone; grave markers.This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.