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Earnest Hersea Angle

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...; who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Earnest Hersea Angle was born on February 13, 1922, in McDowell County to Vessie Ernest Angle and Dana Ellen Church Angle. His father's family originates from Germany and immigrated to Franklin County, Virginia, early in our nation's history. Earnest was the first of seven children. He had three sisters:Martha, Marie, and Beverly:as well as three brothers:Austin, Ransom, and Mack. All of Earnest's siblings lived long lives, but are all now deceased, as well as the Angle parents. It is likely that the Angle family moved often due to availability of coal mining employment in West Virginia.

At age one Earnest lived in Crumpler, McDowell County, West Virginia. When he turned five, the family moved to Layland, Fayette County, West Virginia. When Earnest was eight, they moved to Barker's Ridge, Wyoming County, West Virginia. Finally, when he was thirteen, he moved to Meadow Bluff, Greenbrier County, West Virginia, where he lived until he left to serve his country.

Earnest enlisted for the U.S. Navy on October 7, 1940. He left for war very young, was unmarried, and had no children. His rank was fireman second class (F2c). Some of the duties Earnest had once he was on the USS Arizona were firing and tending the boilers as well as operating and repairing pipes.

View of the U.S. Navy battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, in March 1931 following her modernization. National Archives and Records Administration photo no. 19-LC-19B-1

Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan

As Earnest was onboard the USS Arizona from 1940 through 1941, he was killed in action during the Pearl Harbor attacks. He died on December 7, 1941. The attack started early that clear morning. Aboard the Arizona, the band was playing as the flag was being raised. The hum of hundreds of approaching planes could be heard as they crested the hill overlooking the harbor. At first, the men aboard the Arizona thought it was just a training exercise until they saw the splash of the approaching torpedo bombs. They looked up and saw the rising sun emblem on the wings of the aircraft and knew their world would be forever changed. The USS Arizona men rushed to their battle stations to defend the ship. A bomb penetrated the deck of the ship, went into the magazine of the ship, and ignited all their ammunition, destroying the ship. Men were trapped for weeks, and some died alive underwater trapped in the chambers of the ship. Earnest's body was unrecoverable, along with over 900 other men from the USS Arizona. The men of the Arizona remain entombed in the ship.

Earnest is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. After his death, he was rewarded with the Purple Heart, a World War II Victory Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with a star. Earnest was only nineteen years old at the time of his death; his life had barely begun and his bravery and sacrifice will be remembered.
Tablets of the Missing

F2c Earnest Angle's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing Honolulu Memorial, National Cemetery of the Pacific. Courtesy David Blewster Knight, Find A Grave

Article prepared by Chloe Burdette, George Washington High School, Advanced Placement U.S. History


Earnest Hersea Angle

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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