USS Arizona June 18 2013, 0 Comments

By Jack Kopstein

USS Arizona, Band 22

I visited the USS Arizona site for the second time in 3 years recently while on a visit to Hawaii. There is something very compelling for me because it spelt the end for so many naval personnel and certainly because of the loss of an entire navy band. The quiet on the remnants of the ARIZONA is overwhelming and as the oil drips which is clearly a phenomenon it signals the lives lost in an almost musical fashion- that of the slow march.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the "day that will live in infamy", the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. During the attack the USS Arizona (BB-39) was struck amidships by an armor-piercing bomb that penetrated the Arizona's ammunition spaces. The explosion that resulted left a sinking ship. In all, of more than 1500 officers and crew, 1177 were killed in action. 900 of those killed are still interred in the Arizona Memorial. When the attack took place, the band members along with Bandmaster Fredrick W. Kinney reported to their battle station in the ammunition spaces. All 21 musicians were killed in the explosions. The entire band had joined the ship’s company in June of 1941.

The Battle of Music 1941 began on September 13, 1941. It was held at Bloch Arena every two weeks and featured four Navy bands at each competition. The first and second place winners were to compete in the semi-finals, with the first and second place winners of the two semi-final contests to compete in the final contest to be held on December 20. Arizona's band competed in the first contest of September 13. The winners of that contest were the bands from Arizona and California. Arizona's band competed in the first semi-final contest held on November 22. Winners of that contest were the bands from the Marine Barracks and Arizona.

The published orchestrations from that period were massive in content In contrast to jazz "combos," in which musical performances are largely improvised; big band music is primarily crafted in advance by an arranger. Although the music program for the “contest” does not exist the most celebrated published tune included the Hit Tune “Tuxedo Junction” The Robbins version of the tune by composer Erskin Hawkins from 1940 is most likely the one that was performed. Typical big band arrangements of the swing period are written in strophic form with the same phrase and chord structure repeated several times. Each iteration, or chorus, most commonly follows Twelve-bar blues form or Thirty-two-bar (AABA) song form. The first chorus of an arrangement typically introduces the melody, and is followed by subsequent choruses of development. This development may take the form of improvised solos, written soli sections, and shout choruses. An arrangement's first chorus is sometimes preceded by an introduction, which may be as short as a few measures or may extend to chorus of its own. Many arrangements contain an interlude, often similar in content to the introduction, inserted between some or all choruses. Other methods of embellishing the form include modulations and cadential extensions. The second semi-final contest was held on December 6. Winners of that contest were the bands from Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  Therefore, the final contest scheduled for December 20 would have featured the bands from the Marine Barracks and Arizona, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  Not only did the contest of December 20 not occur, that is actually the date that all the families of the Arizona band received their first "Missing in Action" telegrams. 

The following statement was released by the Navy 2 April 1942 and carried by newspapers nationwide: "What becomes of the boys in the band when the guns begin to roar?" Many a civilian has asked that question. Blowing a horn or beating a drum is not firing a gun. What becomes of the ship's musicians when the battle rages?  The most dramatic answer to that question has been furnished by the incident of the ship's band of the battleship Arizona. On December 7 they went to their battle station, one of the most hazardous on the ship--down below, passing ammunition to the guns above.  To a man, the Arizona's band was killed when the battleship's magazine exploded.  When its total loss was discovered, the other contestants unanimously agreed to award posthumously to the Arizona's band the trophy at stake.  Great interest in the trophy has been expressed by the U.S. Navy School of Music at Washington, and in response to its request, a picture of the trophy was painted by Alfred Dupont, illustrator at the fleet recreation office, and sent to the national capital, to be placed on permanent exhibit there.  Henceforth, the trophy will be known as the Arizona trophy.

The band members of the USS Arizona killed in action included: KINNEY, Frederick W. 279-25-26, 1st Mus., Home: Bremerton, Washington. Graduate of Bremerton High School, attended University of Washington at Seattle. Leader HAAS, Curtis J. 316-70-82, S2C. Home: Kansas City, Missouri. Graduate of North Kansas City High School, attended Huff Business College. Previous occupation - Professional Musician. Major instrument - Flute, Piccolo. Minor instrument - Tenor Sax, Clarinet. Nickname - "Curt" LYNCH, Emmett I. 287-39-39 Musician 2c. Home: Louisville, Kentucky. Graduate of Ormsby Village High School. A.B. from Georgetown College. Previous occupation - Salesman. Major instrument - Bass Drum. Nickname - "Rusty" BRABBZON, Oran M. 223-81-96 Musician 2c. Home: East Meadow, Long Island, New York. Graduate of Hempstead High School. Major instrument - French Horn. Nickname - "Buttercup" MOORHOUSE, William S. 342-29-10 Musician 2c. (Deck log spells name Moorehouse) Home: Wichita, Kansas. Graduate of Strong Vincent High School. Attended Erie Conservatory of Music. Previous occupation - Draftsman. Major instrument - Trumpet. Nickname - "Killer" RADFORD, Neal J. 316-69-33 S2C. Home: Newark, Nebraska. Attended Kearney High School. Previous occupation - Farmer. Major instrument - Baritone. Nickname - "Brick" BANDY, Wayne L. 337-41-33 S2C. Home: Waynesville, Missouri. Graduate of Waynesville High School. Previous occupation - Truck Driver. Major instument - Trumpet. Nickname - "Buck" CHERNUCHA, Harry G. 223-91-08 S2C. Home: North Merrick, Long Island, New York. Graduate of Mephan High School. Wrestling champion of New York State High Schools. Major instrument - Clarinet. Minor instrument - Sax. Nickname - "Cherry" & "The Mad Russian" HURLEY, Wendell R. 291-66-49 S2C. Home: Louisville, Kentucky. Graduate of Marion High School. Previous occupation - Baton Twirling Teacher. Major instrument - Clarinet. Nickname - "Lady Killer" SANDERSON, James H. 376-15-83 S2C. Home: Lindsay, California. Graduate of Lindsay High School. Previous occupation - Orange Grower. Major instrument - Sax. Nickname - "Sandy" WILLIAMS, Clyde R. 356-42-55 S2C. Home: Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Graduate of Okmulgee High School. Previous occupation - "Soda Jerk" Major instrument - Cornet. Nickname - "Oklmulgee" SHAW, Robert K. 360-26-52 S2C. Home: Pasadena, Texas. Graduate of Pasadena High School. Previous occupation - Movie Usher. Major instrument - Trombone. Nickname - "Peepee" SCRUGGS, Jack L. 382-34-07 S2C. Home: Long Beach, California. Graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. Previous occupation - Salesman and Semi-professional musician. (His sister reported Jack was asked by ADM Kidd, Sr. to play his accordion for his wife's birthday call.) Major instrument - Trombone. Minor instrument - Piano and Piano Accordion. Nickname - "Scrooge" MCCARY, William M. 272-49-25 S2C. (Deck log spells last name McCrary) Home: Birmingham, Alabama. Graduate of Shades Cahaba High School. Previous occupation - Ranch Hand. Major instrument - Tuba. Nickname - "Swede" BURDETTE, Ralph W. 224-09-35 S2C. Home: Plainfield, New Jersey. Graduate of Plainfield High School. Major instrument - French Horn. Nickname - "Chowhound" NADEL, Alexander J. 224-14-64 S2C. Home: Astoria, Long Island, New York. Graduate of Bryant High School. Attended Juilliard Conservatory of Music. Previous occupation - Semi-professional musician. Major instrument - Trumpet. Nickname - "Alexander the Swooze" HUGHES, Bernard T. 243-88-64 S2C. Home: Athens, Pennsylvania. Graduate of Athens High School. Previous occupation - Factory Worker. Major instrument - Trombone. Nickname - "Bee" WHITSON, Ernest H. Jr. 279-79-54 S2C. Home: Cincinnati, Ohio. Graduate of Withrow High School. Attended Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Previous occupation - Salesman. Major instrument - String Bass. Nickname - "Ernie" FLOEGE, Frank N. 300-38-73 S2C. Home: Harvey, Illinois. Graduate of Thornton Township High School. Previous occupation - Welder in Buda Diesel Co. Major instrument - Clarinet. Minor instrument - Sax. Nickname - "Flat-foot Floogie" COX, Gerald C. 300-38-24 S2C. Home: Rock Island, Illinois. Graduate of East Molin High School. Attended Racine Conservatory of Music. Previous occupation - Guitar Teacher. Major instrument - Guitar. Nickname - "Jerry" WHITE, Charles W. 368-62-78 S2C. Home: Bountiful, Utah. Graduate of Davis High School. Attended Brigham Young University. Previous occupation - Professional Musician. Major instrument - Drums. Nickname - "Whitey" The 21 member band killed aboard the USS ARIZONA BB-39, 7 December 1941 “Something Touched me deep inside The Day the music died” Read more about the USS Arizona Band here