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James O'Rourke '37

Date of birth: December 26, 1914

Date of death: December 15, 1944

Age: 29

Lucky Bag

From the 1937 Lucky Bag:


James was taken as a prisoner of war following the fall of Corregidor and was killed on December 15, 1944 when American aircraft mistakenly attacked the POW ship (Oryoku Maru) he was aboard.

From Find A Grave: "He was held at Japanese POW Camp 1, Cabanatuan 1-2-3, Nueva Province, Luzon, Philippines 15-121."

Unable to find which unit he had been with prior to his capture. (The April 1, 1941 Navy Directory has him aboard USS Guam (PG 43), a ship that had been renamed and re-designated a few months before. In any event, the ship is the only US Navy ship to be surrendered… but that occurred in China, and the officers and crew were held in Shanghai, so James has to have been transferred or traveling for some reason at the outbreak of the war.)

His wife was listed as next of kin. James has a memory marker in Massachusetts.

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.

September 1937

Ensign, USS Quincy

Others at this command:

January 1938

Ensign, USS Quincy

Others at this command:

July 1938

Ensign, USS Quincy

Others at this command:

January 1939

Ensign, USS Quincy

Others at this command:

October 1939

Ensign, USS Schenck

June 1940

Ensign, USS Guam

Others at this command:

November 1940

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Guam

Others at this command:

April 1941

Lieutenant (j.g.), USS Guam

Others at this command:

Class of 1937

James is one of 45 members of the Class of 1937 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.