MM2c Wesley John Heidt,
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MM2c Wesley John Heidt
Brothers Edward Joseph and Wesley John Heidt enlisted in the Navy together on September 13, 1939, and within five months both were aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.
They were killed on Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship was bombed and sunk in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Wesley had written to their mother in Los Angeles about two weeks before they died. “Hello Mom, this is your bad son again. Boy have I been catching hell for not writing. I don’t know why you worry about us so much, if anything happened to us you would hear from the Navy first thing. I am safer on this battleboat then I would be driving back and forth to work if I was home.”
The family was notified the week of Christmas that the sons were missing. Edward was a fireman first class. Wesley had just been promoted to machinist’s mate and petty officer second class – a non-commissioned officer.
Edward, known as Bud, was born June 19, 1916 and Wesley on May 17, 1917. Their father, George, then worked at a metal company and later for 28 years as a stereotyper at the Los Angeles Times. Their mother, Genevieve Lombardi Heidt, was a homemaker. They divorced before 1929 and both remarried.
The boys graduated in 1936 from Leuzinger High in Lawndale, then a town of less than 3,000 in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. The yearbook described Wesley as an “ace pitcher, catcher and slugger” and member of the Marine League all-tournament team. Edward was a letterman on the track team. Both then served in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era federal jobs program.Their death was not the end of the family’s war sacrifice. Their step-mother, Hazel Flanders Heidt, lost her brother, Harold Arthur Flanders, in November 1942, when his light cruiser, the U.S.S. Juneau, was torpedoed twice in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He had a wife and four sons between the ages of 11 and 16 months.
Sources: The Los Angeles Times; the Associated Press; National Archives; Pearl Harbor National Memorial; California birth and divorce records; Census; Navy muster rolls; Leuzinger High School yearbook. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.