Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor: KIA - Robert Melvin Hunter

Robert Melvin Hunter

The Fresno Bee
December 16, 1941

Fresno Naval Officer Dies in Pacific Attack

Navy informs relatives Ensign Robert M. Hunter Killed in Action

Ensign Robert M. Hunter, 23, of Fresno, assistant navigation officer on an American battleship, was killed in a Japanese raid in the Pacific.

Word of his death was received from the navy department today by local relatives.  The message from Washington D.C. gave no details other than that he was killed "in line of duty" and that relatives will be informed later regarding the body.

Naval restrictions prevent the use of the name of Hunter's ship or the area in which he met death.

Second Fresnan Killed

His death was the second reported among the numerous Fresno young men serving with the navy, _____ Gastner, 21, a gunnery officer, also was killed.

Hunter, who had been in active service since his graduation from the Northwestern University Naval Academy about five months ago was the son of Sheldon A. Hunter, local district manager for the Western Union Telegraph Company, and Mrs. Harriet Hunter, a nurse, also of Fresno.  His grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Pease who reside on Church Avenue.

Robert Melvin Hunter, born April 16, 1918, was my mother's step brother.  His father's second wife was my grandmother, Clara Fitzgerald.  Robert was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was hit and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (aka The Punchbowl).

An interesting tidbit I discovered while I was putting this together was that there is now a memorial at Pearl Harbor for the USS Oklahoma.  We last visited Pearl Harbor in June, 2007 and I have no recollection of a memorial there.  I've learned that the memorial opened in December, 2007 which explains why I don't remember seeing it.  It looks like a beautiful place to visit.

USS Oklahoma Memorial
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Photo by Dennis Frank

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