S1c William Richard La Francea

Unknown Sailor

S1c William Richard La Francea

The parents of William Richard La France lost two sons to war.

William Richard was a Navy seaman first class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

One of his younger brothers, Dale Elden, a Marine who went by LaFrance, was killed in the Korean War on June 10, 1951.

Their parents, William Phillip La France and Esther May La France, had been widowed in Saginaw, Michigan in 1920. William Richard, their first child together, was born July 22, 1921.

As it was for most families, the Depression was difficult. The 1940 Census showed the father as a laborer for the Works Progress Administration, a federal jobs program. He earned $624 the previous year. His was the sole income for the family of nine.

William Richard graduated from St. Andrew High School in 1940 and enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 9.

Dale Elden was awarded the Silver Star for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with Company E Second Battalion, First Marines, First Division…. Although painfully 

wounded during the company attack on Hill 676 north of Yanggu, Sergeant LaFrance unhesitatingly assumed command when his squad leader became a casualty and, repeatedly exposing himself to fierce hostile fire, led the men in a daring charge which completely overran the enemy positions. Mortally wounded when he was again struck by hostile fire during the final assault, Sergeant LaFrance, by his courageous leadership, fortitude and unswerving devotion to duty, served to inspire all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”


Sources: Census; military muster rolls; Defense Department; headstone application for military veteran; Silver Star citation. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the USS Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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