SM3c William Oscar Miller

Unknown Sailor

SM3c William Oscar Miller

Until he joined the Navy, William Oscar Miller lived his whole life in or near Findlay, Illinois, population 688, about 50 miles east-southeast of Springfield.

He was born Oct. 1, 1919 and enlisted on March 12, 1940, a year after the death of his father, Lewis, a sawyer.

His death and the Depression were surely hard on the family. The 1940 Census showed his mother, Nannie, then 60, doing housework as a Works Progress Administration home aide. The WPA was a federal jobs program. Mrs. Miller reported that in 1939 she worked 21 weeks and earned $126.

Her life became even more difficult on Dec. 7, 1941 when William Oscar Miller was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a signalman and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona.

A granddaughter, Reba Browning, said many years later that his death “just about killed” his mother, too. She died on June 8, 1946, at the age of 66.


Sources: Census records; Illinois death records; the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky. 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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