HENRY P. WHITEHURST, JR., ENS, USN

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Birthdate & Date of Loss

Date of birth: February 16, 1920
Date of death: August 9, 1942
Age: 22

Lucky Bag

1942 Whitehurst LB.jpg

From the 1942 Lucky Bag:

HENRY P. WHITEHURST, 3RD

Hank, Blackfoot, Whitey, Whitehorse, Purefoy

In Hank the South produced an incurable rebel. Nevertheless, he's just one of the boys now. The daily "frap sheets" and the week-end academic popularity lists in particular kept him in the public eye. Characteristic idiosyncrasies: outdoor swimming in March or a shower after formation busted. The femmes think him tall, dark, and handsome—too bad they couldn't have seen him around 0615.

Wrestling 4, w42t; Chess Club 4.3; Black N ; P.P.O.

The Class of 1942 graduated on December 19, 1941, less than two weeks after the United States entered World War II. The class had previously been scheduled to graduate in February 1942.

Loss

Henry was lost when USS Astoria (CA 34) was sunk early in the morning of August 9, 1942 by Japanese surface forces at the Battle of Savo Island.

From The Citadel Memorial:

Attended The Citadel for a year before transferring to the US Naval Academy from which he graduated in December 1941. He was lost in action aboard the USS Astoria when she was sunk at the Battle of Savo Island. The USS Whitehurst DE-634 was named in his honor.

His mother was listed as next of kin.

Obituary

From Find A Grave:

Henry Purefoy Whitehurst, Jr.—born on 16 February 1920 at New Bern, N.C.—was appointed a midshipman on 14 July 1938 and, because of the exigencies of war, graduated with the Naval Academy's Class of 1942 on 19 December 1941. He reported to the heavy cruiser Astoria (CA-34) on the morning of 18 January 1942 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Whitehurst served as a junior watch and division officer in Astoria as that ship took part in the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, and was in the cruiser when she participated in the landings on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. The next day, Astoria screened the vital transports as they unloaded supplies and equipment for the marines ashore, and that evening stood out to a night retirement station off Savo Island.

A little after 0152 on the morning of 9 August, a Japanese force under Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa— which had slipped undetected into the waters south of Savo Island—unleashed a devastating night attack on the Southern and Northern Forces. In the former, Chicago (CA-29) was damaged and the Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra crippled so badly that she later sank.

The Northern Force, unaware of the enemy's presence until too late, soon took staggering punishment. Vincennes (CA-44) and Quincy (CA-39) sank before daylight, but Astoria lingered on while her surviving officers and men labored to save their ship. However, the damage proved too great; and Astoria—like her two sister ships—eventually succumbed shortly after noon on 9 August. Among the dead suffered in the Battle of Savo Island was Ensign Whitehurst.

Namesake

USS Whitehurst (DE 634) is named in Henry's honor; his mother was the ship's sponsor.


Class Navigation

Class of 1942
Henry is one of 82 members of the Class of 1942 in Memorial Hall.
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