FRANK S. LOMAX, ENS, USN
Frank Lomax '40
Date of birth: 1918
Date of death: December 7, 1941
From the 1940 Lucky Bag:
Frank was lost in USS Arizona (BB 39) during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
His father was listed as next of kin.
Frank and I became very good friends the last two years at the Academy. We were both on the gymnastics team and traveled together to gym meets and worked out together almost daily. After graduation, I saw Frank often since our ships, ARIZONA and MARYLAND, were both on battleship row at Ford Island. Frank was diligent and reliable as well as friendly and amiable. He liked a good time and was excellent company for everyone. He had a fine sense of duty and undertook assignments in a most responsible way. Art Varnum
From Kearney Hub on July 28, 2016:
BROKEN BOW — Frank Lomax was the first Custer County veteran to lose his life in World War II.
Monday, Lomax’s sword returned to its permanent home in Broken Bow after nearly 70 years.
Frank Stuart Lomax was born in Broken Bow on April 24, 1917, the middle child of three boys. Known to family and friends as Stuart, Lomax joined the Navy and in 1940 graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He was commissioned an ensign on June 6, 1940.
During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Lomax went to investigate why ammunition was not getting to anti-aircraft guns when a bomb struck the USS Arizona. Lomax was never seen again, and his body was never recovered.
A few years after Lomax’s death, a local boy named Tom Hill was helping a woman clean out her house and ran across some items that had belonged to Lomax.
“I think it was about 1948, and this lady lived a couple of blocks west of the (Custer County) courthouse,” Hill said. “I think this may have represented something very painful in her life and that may have been why she was getting rid of it. She was just throwing things out the window, kind of thing, and I thought ‘that’s too neat — I’ll take it,’” Hill said.
Hill said he has traveled — to places such as California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska and Kansas City — but through his travels he kept the sword with him.
The sword is the Naval Academy sword presented to Lomax when he graduated. A few years ago, Hill decided to do some research on the sword and its origin. He checked ancestry.com and other genealogy sites and ran across the Palmer-Lomax Legion Post name.
“Tom contacted the Custer County Chief, and then we were able to make contact,” said Gene Hendricks, Palmer-Lomax Legion Post adjutant. “He was planning to make a trip to Nebraska to visit his sister, so we made arrangements to meet.”
Hill, a graduate of Broken Bow High School, now lives in Duncanville, Texas. He said his goal when he began researching the history of the sword was to one day return it to its rightful home.
“I found this book commemorating the 60th anniversary of the graduation of the Naval class of 1940 and one chapter is called, ‘This Is No Drill.’ It is an account, from the Navy’s point of view, of what happened beginning at 7:55 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, when the first bombs started landing,” Hill said. “It mentions when the Arizona got hit, and when Frank and some of his classmates lost their lives on the Arizona, and they’re still there.”
Ann Keller of Broken Bow, Lomax’s cousin, and Joyce Lomax of Oconto, wife of another cousin, were both in attendance Monday at the Broken Bow American Legion as Hill presented the sword to Hendricks.
“He was very active as a gymnast,” Joyce recalled as she and Ann began sharing stories of the young man they fondly remember.
Paul Robison, an old friend and World War II veteran himself, also recalled the young Stuart Lomax.
“I grew up right across the street from them and was great friends with his brother, Harvard. I remember the day I heard he had been killed. I said, ‘Oh no, it couldn’t be Stuart. Not Stuart,’” Robison said.
Hill said he was delighted to be able to return the sword back home to mark the 75th anniversary year of the Pearl Harbor attack and of Lomax’s death. Palmer-Lomax Post Commander Rod Sonnichsen said receiving the sword is a special honor for the post.
“We have items here on display that share the history of Palmer, but we didn’t have anything for Lomax,” Sonnichsen explained. “So this is a really big thing. We are just thrilled and deeply grateful to Mr. Hill for doing this.”
The sword was mounted in a display case inside the Veteran’s Memorial Building where it will remain as a legacy of the first Custer County casualty of World War II. ELLEN MORTENSEN, Hub Regional Correspondent