ARTHUR L. GUSTAFSON, LT, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Arthur Gustafson '36

Date of birth: June 13, 1913

Date of death: February 19, 1942

Age: 28

Lucky Bag

From the 1936 Lucky Bag:


Loss

Arthur was lost when USS Peary (DD 226) was sunk in Darwin harbor, Australia, by Japanese air attack on February 19, 1942. There is an extensive history of the ship's brief wartime career, beginning with the air raid at the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, on December 10, 1941 and including her harrowing escape to Australia.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

From South Dakota WWII Memorial:

Arthur Leonard Gustafson, son of Martin Aldin Gustafson and Alma Gustfson, was born June 13, 1913 in Watertown, South Dakota. He grew up in Watertown and graduated from Watertown High School in 1931. He attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and was a 1936 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. While serving state side, Arthur married Eva Gladys Smythe on July 18, 1939 in Washington, D.C. The couple had no children.

Lt. Gustafson enlisted in the United States Navy on June 16, 1932 at Annapolis. Appointed a midshipman in June 1932, he was commissioned an ensign in 1936 and served aboard the battleships Idaho and Colorado. He was commissioned a Lieutenant in 1939 while aboard the Colorado. He reported to duty on the destroyer U.S.S. Peary in September 1939 where he served as a gunnery officer. He was appointed lieutenant for temporary service in January 1942. Lt. Gustafson earned the China Service Medal while serving on the Peary from 1939 to 1940.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1936

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: ENS Graham Bright '35 and ENS Thomas Cummins '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Gordon Schecter '35 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

January 1937

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: ENS Thomas Cummins '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Gordon Schecter '35 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

April 1937

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: ENS Thomas Cummins '35.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Gordon Schecter '35 (Observation Plane Squadron (VO) 3B).

September 1937

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: ENS Thomas Cummins '35, ENS Donald Patterson '37, ENS Macdonald Thompson '37, and ENS Raymond Moore '37.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Gordon Schecter '35 (Observation Squadron (VO) 3).

January 1938

Ensign, USS Idaho

Others at this command: ENS Donald Patterson '37, ENS Macdonald Thompson '37, and ENS Raymond Moore '37.

Others at or embarked at this command: ENS Gordon Schecter '35 (Observation Squadron (VO) 3).

July 1938

Ensign, staff, Battle Force, USS California

Others at this command: CDR Henry Mullinnix '16 and ENS George Philip, Jr. '35.

Others at or embarked at USS California: LT Gus Lofberg, Jr. '27 (USS California), LTjg Dewitt Harrell '35 (USS California), ENS Earl Cassidy '37 (USS California), ENS Green Goodloe '37 (USS California), ENS Hugh Rimmer '37 (USS California), ENS John King '37 (USS California), ENS Donald Hamilton, Jr. '38 (USS California), and ENS West Payne '38 (USS California).

January 1939

Ensign, staff, Battle Force, USS California

Others at this command: CDR Henry Mullinnix '16.

Others at or embarked at USS California: LT Gus Lofberg, Jr. '27 (USS California), LTjg Dewitt Harrell '35 (USS California), ENS Robert Bonin '36 (Battle Force, US Fleet), ENS Green Goodloe '37 (USS California), ENS Hugh Rimmer '37 (USS California), ENS Donald Hamilton, Jr. '38 (USS California), and ENS West Payne '38 (USS California).

October 1939

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Peary

Others at this command: LTjg David Zabriskie, Jr. '36.

June 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Peary

Others at this command: LTjg David Zabriskie, Jr. '36.

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Peary

Others at this command: LTjg David Zabriskie, Jr. '36.

April 1941

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Peary


Class of 1936

Arthur is one of 39 members of the Class of 1936 on Virtual Memorial Hall.