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Charles Kovaleski '39

Date of birth: October 4, 1917

Date of death: July 7, 1943

Age: 25

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


Charles was lost on July 7, 1943 when the PB4Y-1P Catalina patrol bomber he was aboard crashed while practicing aerial gunnery near NAS Barbers Point, HI. The entire crew of eleven were killed. They were members of Photographic Squadron (VD) 3.

Charles was a "LT, A-V(S), USNR," which meant he was an "aviation officer of the Volunteer Reserve appointed for special service."


From researcher Kathy Franz:

Charles was born in Boston, and the family moved to Detroit in the late 1920s. In 1947 his father Frank was a watchman on the City of Cleveland III, owned by D&C Navigation Company. His mother was Frances, and his sister was Helen. His brother Fred, born in 1924 Boston, was a world-renown tennis player who was still playing into his 90s. Fred’s son Serge, a New York Times reporter and Nobel prize winner, wrote an article about his father’s CIA days in the 2006 Washington Post Magazine.

He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial Hall Error

Charles is not listed with his classmates. He was identified through the diligent efforts of Leslie Poche, a volunteer who combed through Shipmate issues to find operational losses not accounted for in Memorial Hall.

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.

October 1939

Ensign, USS San Francisco

Others at this command:

June 1940

Ensign, USS San Francisco

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, USS Stack

Others at this command:

April 1941

Ensign, USS Stack

Class of 1939

Charles is one of 78 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.