In Memory of
U.S. Navy Ensign
Eldin R. Arms
Kennebec, South Dakota
Lyman County
November 1, 1920 – October 6, 1943
Buried at Sea near Wake Island

Eldin R. Arms

Eldin R. Arms was born in Westport, South Dakota, on November 1, 1920. He was the second son of Rev. Clinton DeWitt Arms and Vesta Lisle Arms. Eldin, also known as “Whitey” because he was the only member of the family to have white hair and blue eyes, joined his older brother Luverne, “Brownie,” and two years later was accompanied by his youngest brother M. Wesley, “Blackie.”

Eldin graduated from high school at Valley Springs, SD, in 1937, where he was an honor student and active in many sports. While a member of the Lightning CC Camp in the Black Hills, he helped construct the new lookout tower on Harney Peak. The year following, he entered John Fletcher College at University Park, IA, and remained there for two years. He taught the seventh and eighth grades in the public schools in Rowley, IA, and was also the basketball coach. He resigned his school position around Christmas time to enlist in the Naval Air Corps.

He entered Wold-Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis for three months and was inducted into the Naval Air Corps on April 1, 1942. He was sent to Corpus Christi, TX, where he received his wings on December 11.  He took advanced training at several bases and was the leader of his squadron when he left the US for active combat services. He departed from the west coast on September 12, 1943, on board a converted aircraft carrier named The Cowpens. He was a fighter pilot and flew a Gruman Hellcat.

Eldin was returning from a second raid over Wake Island, where they had been fighting the Japanese Zeros, who were attempting to shoot down the US bombers. While landing on the deck, his grappling hook did not catch, and he went off into the Pacific Ocean and sank immediately. “Rescue vessels stayed in the vicinity for over an hour, but nothing came to the surface. Everything that could be done was done, and it was with great sadness when we learned that he had not been recovered,” said Robert H. Price, Lt. US Navy Commanding, in a telegram directed to Eldin’s parents. 

Eldin R. Arms

“Eldin was one of the most popular, young pilots in the squadron, and in addition, I considered him one of the best. His enthusiasm for flying plus his ability for doing his job assigned was always gratifying,” stated Price. Eldin is honored at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, for those soldiers who gave their lives in WWII.

This entry is respectfully submitted by Abby Schlomer and Heather Anderson, juniors at Lyman High School, Presho, SD, April 1, 2002. Information for this entry was provided by M. Wesley Arms, Eldin’s younger brother, and by Leola Peterson, who sent a newspaper clipping.