Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One veteran: Clarence Arvis Blaylock

Clarence Arvis Blaylock F.3c, U.S.S. Oklahoma 1922-1941

He was the lowest rank, Fireman 3rd Class, and spent long, hellacious days toiling in the belly of the engine rooms that powered the U.S.S. Oklahoma. I imagine he'd joined for the same reason so many young men joined in 1940: love of country coupled with the hardscrabble life of a poor family barely getting by during the depression.

These are the only two pictures of him that I know of, passed down in shoe boxes over the long years.

He was known as Dean, the baby brother to the four older Blaylock siblings and doted upon. When he enlisted, my grandfather was bitterly disappointed he couldn't join up with him. He'd lost an eye as a welder and the Navy wouldn't have him.

Dean was 19 when he was killed in the attacks at Pearl Harbor, probably one of the many men trapped when the ship capsized, trapping hundreds inside as it took on water.

Yesterday, I did a quick search for him. His name is on all the lists of the men who died at Pearl Harbor, but sadly his is one of the names that has no face. I've email several of the larger sites to see how to rectify that.

So for this Veterans Day, one of the men I remember is a man I never met, killed 29 years before I was born, but whom I heard about fondly from my grandfather, who never quite got over the death of his baby brother who died serving his country.


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