Cockrum, Kenneth Earl, MM1c

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Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Last Primary NEC
MM-0000-Machinist's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Machinists Mate
Primary Unit
1936-1941, MM-0000, USS Arizona (BB-39)
Service Years
1935 - 1941
MM-Machinists Mate
One Hash Mark

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

122 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Felix Cervantes, III (Admiral Ese), BM2 to remember Cockrum, Kenneth Earl, MM1c.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor

Casualty Date
Dec 07, 1941
Hostile, Died
Other Explosive Device
World War II
Location of Interment
USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
USS Arizona (BB-39)
  1936-1941, MM-0000, USS Arizona (BB-39)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Attack on Pearl Harbor
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Petty Officer First Class Kenneth Cockrum was Killed in Action on December 7, 1941, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was stationed aboard the USS Arizona (BB-39).

When the late Bernice Mantz received a letter Oct. 9, 1941, from her brother, Kenneth Earl Cockrum, he was working as a machinist on the lowest deck of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

Cockrum wrote he was looking forward to the possibility of finishing his tour of service in the Navy and coming home to Seymour to be a civilian once again.

“Seems like everything I plan goes haywire here of late, like getting out of the Navy and coming home,” the Brownstown native wrote. “Of course, we don’t know for sure, but the best dope we can get on it, we won’t be back on shore until around the first of January 1942.”

That was the last letter his family would receive from him.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Cockrum, along with 1,176 of the 1,512 sailors and Marines on board the Pennsylvania-class battleship at the time of the Japanese surprise attack, lost their lives.

After being struck by three bombs and nearly hit by three others, the final blow came at 8:06 a.m. that day, when a bomb penetrated the armored deck of the Arizona and hit near ammunition magazines in the forward section of the ship, causing a massive explosion.

Bernice, who died Jan. 9, 2001, wrote Kenneth in January 1942, just after celebrating Christmas with family, but that letter was returned unopened.

She wrote: “Dear Kenneth, We have waited this long and have received no word from you. Mother got a telegram from Washington, stating that you are missing. If you are OK and can in anyway, please send us just a brief message. Mother is pretty worried. We’ve heard of several other boys that are OK and would certainly like to hear something about you.”

The letter was returned unopened. Another letter, sent earlier in November, also was returned unopened in January.

In March 1942, the family received an official Certificate of Casualty, a formal document with filled-in blanks, stating Cockrum was “missing in action, presumed dead;” “Cause of Casualty – Enemy Action.”

No body was sent home because none was recovered. The family held a memorial service later that spring in Seymour.

Bernice’s daughter, Roberta Bane of Vallonia, said she doesn’t really remember her mother talking about that time and what happened.

“I didn’t know much about it until I found the box of letters and newspaper clippings in mother’s things after she passed away,” Bane said.

Bane has preserved the letters, pictures and articles in a photo album. She also has a large photo of the USS Arizona memorial with a close-up of the name of her uncle where it appears on the ship.

“It’s a part of our family history, one that I want to keep so my kids and grandkids can see it and know how he served his country,” she said.

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