Chernucha, Harry Gregory, S2c

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Seaman Second Class
Last Primary NEC
Last Rating/NEC Group
Primary Unit
1941-1941, MU-0000, USS Arizona (BB-39)
Service Years
1940 - 1941
Seaman Second Class

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
This Military Service Page was created/owned by James Ramsey (Jim), MUCM to remember Chernucha, Harry Gregory, S2c.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
North Merrick, Long Island

Casualty Date
Dec 07, 1941
KIA-Killed in Action
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
World War II
Location of Interment
USS ARIZONA (BB-39) - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Entombed in the hull of the Arizona

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Pearl Harbor MemorialUSS Arizona MemorialWorld War II FallenUnited States Navy Memorial
The National Gold Star Family RegistryWWII Memorial National RegistryNew YorkU.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial
  1941, Pearl Harbor Memorial
  2012, USS Arizona Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2013, World War II Fallen
  2014, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2015, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2016, WWII Memorial National Registry - Assoc. Page
  2021, Stories Behind The Stars, New York (Fallen Member (Honor Roll)) (New York) - Chap. Page
  2021, U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial

 Ribbon Bar

 Unit Assignments
Navy School of Music (Staff) Virginia Beach, VAUSS Arizona (BB-39)
  1940-1941, Navy School of Music (Staff) Virginia Beach, VA
  1941-1941, MU-0000, USS Arizona (BB-39)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Attack on Pearl Harbor
  1941-1945 World War II/American Theater
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity:

Chernucha, Harry G:  Major Instrument, Clarinet.  Minor, Sax
Home:  North Merrick, Long Island, N.Y. Graduate of Mephan High School (Wrestling champion of New York State high schools)
Nickname: "Cherry" & "The Mad Russian"
The Men of the U.S.S. Arizona Band
Bandmaster, Frederick W. Kinney, 1st MUS.
Nadel, A.J. "Alexander the Swooze"
Bandy, W.L. "Buck"
Brabbzson, O.M. "Buttercup"
Radford, N.F. "Brick"
Scruggs, J.L. Scrooge"
Whitson, E.H. "Ernie"
Hass, C.J. "Curt"
Floege, C.C. "Flat-Foot Floogie"
Cox, C.C. "Jerry" Morehouse, W.S. "Killer"
Williams, C.R. "Oklmugee"
White, C.W. "Whitey"
Burdette, R.W. "Chowhound"
Shaw, R.K. "Peepee"
Hughes, B.T. "Bee"
McCary, W.M. "Swede"
Sanderson, J.H. "Sandy"
Hurley, W.R. "Lady-killer"
Chernucha, H.G. "Cherry & Mad Russian"
Lynch, E.I. "Rusty"

USS Arizona's Last Band was born at the United States Navy School of Music in Washington, DC in January 1941. It died in its entirety on 7 December 1941, a victim of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Six months later all 21 of those young musicians were dead.

In Hawaii, under the competent direction of bandmaster Fred Kinney, the Arizona Band soon became very popular and was known as "the best US Navy band in the whole Pacific Fleet."

Seven battleship bands, including Arizona's, were lined up on the fantail ready to play for colors.

Immediately after the Japanese bombs began falling, all the musicians, including Arizona's, ran down below to their battle stations in their ships' ammunition holds, as they had been trained to do.

Just as Arizona's musicians reached their battle stations, the Japanese bomb struck their ship.

And in that instant Arizona died, along with most of her crew, including her entire US Navy Band.

During the five short months, the band served aboard Arizona, her musicians practiced long and hard to improve both their musical skills and their Navy training.


The “senior wills” section of Harry Gregory Chernucha’s high school yearbook said he “leaves his intense patriotism to all those who are too passive in their appreciation of America.”
Though Mr. Chernucha was born in Connecticut, his parents were immigrants who got out of eastern Europe in 1913 --  just ahead of World War I. They taught their only child to appreciate the United States. The father, Harasim, was from Russia and the mother, Anna, from what was then known as Galicia, a province in the Austrian Empire.
Harry, born in 1922, grew up in Nassau County, New York, where his father was a gardener and his mother a housekeeper for another family.
The son was a well known student at Mepham High in Bellmore, New York. He had a lead role in a play, “Little Miss Fortune,” competed in wrestling and track, and wrote a gossip column for the school’s underground newspaper, “Trade Secrets.”
The yearbook for 1940 -- the year he graduated -- described him as hilarious, athletic and verbose.
Most of all, though, he was known for his music. He played saxophone in the band and sometimes conducted the group. He also performed on sax and clarinet with the Jolly Rogers, the orchestra that played at school dances. Outside of school, he and a small group of friends played for dances at fire halls and clubs.  Classmates called him “Cherry” or “The Mad Russian.”
Mr. Chernucha wanted to pursue a career in music, so he sought admission to the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C.   He enlisted in October, 1940 and was assigned Service Number 2239108. The entrance requirements were rigorous and included written and physical tests as well as an audition. He was accepted and became a member of Band Number 22.  He arrived onboard the U.S.S. Arizona June 17, 1941.
He was a musician and petty officer second class when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. All 21 band members were killed when they hurried to their battle station in the ammunition hold, which exploded when the battleship was bombed.
His body was not recovered, but a Requiem Mass was held for him in January 1942 at Church of the Curé of Ars in Merrick, New York. Five-hundred people attended, including the uniformed senior band and 25 wrestlers.
Harry Gregory Chernucha is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.
Chernucha Avenue in Merrick, NY was named in his honor in 1951.
Sources: the Nassau (New York) Daily Review-Star; Census; Mepham High School yearbooks; Mepham High alumni association; Navy muster roll. Yearbook photo.
This information was researched and written on behalf of the USS Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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