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