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Birthdate & Date of Loss

Date of birth: September 12, 1920
Date of death: November 19, 1943
Age: 23

Lucky Bag

1942 Defrees LB.jpg

From the 1942 Lucky Bag:


Joe, Deefy, Punkin

Though "all me bloomin' life, sir" is the traditional answer, in Joe's case it's true. With a lengthy navy background, he has a weather eve cast to continue the family tradition. In particular, Joe has a way with the fairer sex, a way which neither we nor they can quite understand. His ease with the academics as well, makes for a prediction of more than a small measure of success in the Service.

Football 4, 3, Manager; Battalion Soccer; Lacrosse 4; Battalion Lacrosse; Boat Club 4, 3, 2, Ketch Captain 1; 2 Stripes.

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.


Joseph was killed by a shell from a Japanese destroyer that struck USS Sculpin (SS 191) shortly before she was sunk on November 19, 1943.

Joseph's mother was sponsor of the boat, which had been commissioned before the war. His father retired as a Rear Admiral.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Joseph R. Defrees, Jr. (NSN: 0-123693), United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star (Posthumously) for gallantry in action while serving aboard the United States Submarine U.S.S. SCULPIN (SS-191) during war patrols in enemy-controlled waters during World War II. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: American Battle Monuments Commission
Action Date: World War II
Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Sculpin (SS-191)

Class Navigation

Class of 1942
Joseph is one of 82 members of the Class of 1942 in Memorial Hall.
<< William Chewning '42 William Roy, Jr. '42 >>