PTR1c William Frederick Eernisse,
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PTR1c William Frederick Eernisse
William Fredrick “Fred” Eernisse was born in Iowa on July 27, 1909, but spent much of his childhood in Fairhope on Mobile Bay, Alabama. His mother, Maude Stott Eernisse, was a homemaker, and his father, John, a farmer and later a restaurant manager.
Available records do not show when William originally enlisted in the Navy, but a niece said he served for 15 years. He was a painter and petty officer first class when he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, leaving behind his widow, Dorothy, in Los Angeles.
He remains entombed on the Arizona, but there is a grave marker for him in the Fairhope Colony Cemetery, where his parents and grandparents are buried.
Oddly, high school graduates in North Bend, Nebraska, are eligible to apply for a scholarship in his name.
A reporter for the North Bend Eagle, Mary Le Arneal, tried to pin down the Nebraska connection and concluded that the only certain link is that Mr. Eernisse enlisted in Nebraska in 1926. He had two uncles in North Bend. Eventually that was enough to include Mr. Eernisse’s name on a list of Nebraskans killed at Pearl Harbor. Students in each of those men’s “hometowns” are eligible to apply for a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Scholarship.
Sources: North Bend Eagle, Alabama Media Group, Navy muster rolls, Iowa birth registry, US census; Nebraska State Historical Society. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.