A Tucson teen, an admiral and the captain of the U.S.S. Arizona

A Tucson teen, an admiral and the captain of the U.S.S. Arizona

James Van Horn quit Tucson High after his sophomore year to join the Navy. Just six months later, at age 17, he died on the U.S.S. Arizona. He was one of the youngest of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

His mother, Bonnie Cope, said he never talked about the Navy until Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd gave a recruiting talk at Tucson High. "Then nothing could would hold him back. He was inspired. He wanted to go," she told the Tucson Daily Citizen in 1958.

Van Horn could have joined other ships but chose the Arizona because of its name, she said. He enlisted in June and was on the ship by August.

At the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial, which will be dedicated Sunday at 3 p.m. at the University of Arizona, Van Horn's name precedes that of one of the most important men on the ship, Capt. Franklin Van Valkenburgh.

Van Valkenburgh, 53, was a 1909 graduate of the Naval Academy. He grew up in Milwaukee.

Van Horn's hero, Admiral Kidd, also died on the Arizona. He'd been billeted to the Arizona because it was the flagship of Battleship Division One, which Kidd commanded. 

Both Kidd and Van Valkenburgh were posthumously awarded the  Congressional Medal of Honor "for conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and a complete disregard" of their own lives during the attack. Both were just behind where the ship exploded and sank.

All this week TrueTucson.com is blogging about some of the men who died 75 years ago on the Arizona. A public ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday will dedicate a new memorial on the University of Arizona mall. The memorial includes medallions for each of the 1,177 men and an outline of the deck of the ship in full scale.

Capt. Franklin Van Valkenburgh

Capt. Franklin Van Valkenburgh

"Father enlists to avenge sons' deaths at Pearl Harbor"

"Father enlists to avenge sons' deaths at Pearl Harbor"

The men of the U.S.S. Arizona: Seamen, bakers, machinists, musicians

The men of the U.S.S. Arizona: Seamen, bakers, machinists, musicians