From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Henry Whitehurst, Jr. '42

Date of birth: February 16, 1920

Date of death: August 9, 1942

Age: 22

Lucky Bag

From the 1942 Lucky Bag:


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.


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.


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

Class of 1942

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

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