In Memoriam: Jackson Keith Loy (1922-1942)

Jackson Keith Loy (known as “Jack”) was my grandmother Susie’s second cousin; his father Alonzo Loy and Grandma’s father John Loy being first cousins.

My connection to Jack doesn’t stop there. In 1940 Jack’s widowed sister Freda married Chris Walls, whose second cousin was my grandpa Jesse Walls. (Grandpa also had nickname “Jack.”) Both Walls-Loy couples had a child “Jackie Walls.”  One, my dad’s younger brother. The other, Jack Loy’s niece.

For many years I’d corresponded with Freda (neighbor to my dad’s sister, in same Effingham senior apartment building) and her daughter Jackie.  I gained resources for this bio through them, Jack’s other siblings and their children, contemporary newspaper articles, websites about the U.S.S. San Francisco, and government records.

Jackson Keith Loy was born 29 April 1922 on the family farm in Watson Township, Effingham County, Illinois, son of Alonzo Olen and Carrie (Tennant) Loy. Alonzo was son of Thomas S. [born Thomas M.] Loy, son of Joseph C. Loy, son of John Henry Loy, son of Henry Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Though Jack was in my grandma’s “generation,” he was not quite two years older than her son, my (late) dad. Until graduating in 8th grade, my dad attended one-room schoolhouses in Effingham County, including White School in Watson Township. But despite Loy School also being in Watson Township, he never attended there. I believe Jack attended Loy School. (In 1931-32 Effingham County had 68 one-room schools.) Though he and Jack would not have attended school together, they very likely met as boys during family get-togethers.

Six days after Jack’s seventh birthday, his father Alonzo died. When Jack was 10, his widowed mother married his father’s widower older brother, Charles. Charles died two years later. For most rural students in those days, continuing on to high school for 9th grade was optional, being a long way to travel to the nearest town that had one. The 1940 census shows Jack had an eighth grade education, implying having graduated from a typical one-room schoolhouse.

On 4 September 1940 Jack joined the U.S. Navy, enlisting in Chicago, being given service number 300-15-52. On 10 November 1940 Jack was received aboard the U.S.S. Mississippi after completing his training at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois. (This training station is north of Chicago, in Lake County, Illinois and is the only U.S. Navy boot camp.) For the period ending 15 November 1940 he was listed aboard the U.S.S. Mississippi, sailing from Bremerton, Washington to Long Beach, California. His rank at that time was “A.S.” (Apprentice Seaman). For report period ending 9 December 1940 the U.S.S. Mississippi had sailed from Pearl Harbor, Oahu, to “Hawaiian area.” On 6 December 1940 he was registered aboard the U.S.S. San Francisco. The roll of the U.S.S. San Francisco ending 31 December 1940 shows the ship at port at Pearl Harbor, with Jack’s rank still as Apprentice Seaman. In early 1941 he was promoted to Seaman 2nd Class.

The U.S.S. San Francisco rosters ending 30 June, 30 September, and 31 October 1941 still gave his rank as Seaman 2nd Class. The October roster showed the ship in port at Pearl Harbor and notation that on 1 October 1941 Jack had been promoted to Seaman 1st Class. The roster ending 30 November 1941 listed ship in port at Pearl Harbor with Jack’s rank as Seaman 1st Class. It additionally noted that on 10 November he had been transferred for approximately three months of detached detail to Camp Andrews, Nanakuli, Oahu. Thus, he was ashore at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack the following month. However, his detail was shortened, completed on 12 December according to the special roster of 14 December 1941. This roster and rosters of 31 December 1941, 31 March and 30 June 1942 still gave his rank as Seaman 1st Class. The U.S.S. San Francisco muster roll ending 30 September 1942 shows Jack’s rank still as Seaman 1st Class, but obviously much later was penciled above this “GM3C” (Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class) and by his name is written “off 11-13-42.” According to the U.S.S. San Francisco report of changes, dated 5 October 1942, on 1 October 1942 he had been promoted to Gunner’s Mate, 3rd Class. The 18 November 1942 report of changes for the U.S.S. San Francisco reports Jack as killed in action 12 November 1942 and buried at sea. [Note: At Loy Cemetery, in Watson Township, Effingham County, Illinois, there is a (cenotaph) marker in memory of him. There is another cenotaph at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, in Manila, Philippines. And a third memorial, a plaque with his name and names of other shipmates that died, at the U.S.S. San Francisco memorial in San Francisco, California, mentioned below.]

Having just come from Espiritu Santo, largest island of the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, on 12 December 1942 the U.S.S. San Francisco arrived off Lunga Point, in Guadalcanal. At 2:08 in the afternoon the Japanese torpedo planes began their attack. Eight minutes later, an enemy plane hit by American gunfire crashed into area of the ship Jack and his shipmates were manning. The plane continued over the left side of ship, falling into the ocean. [Note: I’m “translating” several nautical terms here for landlubbers’ ease of understanding. :-P]

Jack was buried at sea, wrapped in a blanket belonging to Orville Clarence Jinks, Jr., a shipmate who survived. Jinks, a Signalman on the U.S.S. San Francisco, was also from Effingham County, Illinois and died in 2013; besides his funeral home memorial with obituary, in 2014 the Effingham County Courthouse Museum posted a Facebook entry about him.

Jack was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously, which was accompanied by the following citation:

For extraordinary heroism as a gunner aboard the U.S.S. SAN FRANCISCO during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on November 12 and 13, 1942. Courageously refusing to abandon his gun in the face of an onrushing Japanese torpedo plane, Loy, with cool determination and utter disregard for his own personal safety, kept blazing away until the hostile craft plunged out of the sky in a flaming dive and crashed on his station. His grim perseverance and relentless devotion to duty in the face of certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the defense of his country.

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow, on 4 July 1943, was the launching of the Destroyer Escort Vessel, the U.S.S. Loy, named in honor of Jack. She was christened and commissioned in Portsmouth, Virginia, at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. His widowed mother was to assist with the launching, but health problems prevented her from attending. The ship began as DE-160, then became APD-56. She was decommissioned in 1947, struck from the Navy register in 1964, and in 1966 was sold for scrap.

Several newspapers at this time, including the 4 December 1942 Decatur Daily Review (Decatur, IL), which reported on Jack’s death, also mentioned that one of Jack’s friends, Floyd Hiram Davis, had also died on the U.S.S. San Francisco at the time Jack did. The articles say the young men had been friends before they enlisted in the U.S. Navy, joined the Navy at the same time, and had been shipmates. Davis’ parents were given as “Mr. and Mrs. Arvie Davis” and that his family had moved from Effingham County to Bement, Piatt County, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Davis had been notified of their son’s death a week before Jack’s family had received the telegram informing them of Jack’s death; though both men would have died at same time. Unlike Jinks, Davis has been a mystery to me. I could not find his name in the roster of those that died in the Battle of Guadalcanal. No one by that name is in the WWII index at Fold3. I could not locate him or his father in any census. I could not find him mentioned in any online family trees. Can anyone shed some light on this?? If I find an answer, I’ll update this post with any new information.


U.S.S. San Francisco Damage Report

As the U.S.S. San Francisco was named for the city, San Francisco, California has a memorial for the ship and those that died aboard her.

This site also gives more details on the U.S.S. San Francisco (CA-38) history with the ship’s history from her beginning, the 12 November battle in which Jack was killed, the second battle that took place next day, and her roles in WWII and after, until 1959 when the decommissioned cruiser was sold for scrap.

This is a screenshot of video below on the memorial in San Francisco, California, showing roster of those that died. Note this shot at 2:40 shows Jack’s name in the upper right column (I’ve circled in red).

The U.S.S. San Francisco memorial, in San Francisco, California has a section of the actual ship.

The video below is an interview with George Kass, who was a shipmate at time Jack served on the U.S.S. San Francisco.


Navsource statistics on U.S.S. Loy. Besides that link, this site has a link to photos of the ship and one of Jack. (Their photo of Jack is similar to the one above at beginning of my post, both taken from the U.S.S. Loy Commissioning Pamphlet.)

This podcast below contains an interview with a veteran who served on the U.S.S. Loy.

In anticipation of finding more online government records on Jack, finding more links regarding the ships, solving the mystery of his friend Floyd Hiram Davis, as well as hearing from others with more details to add, this post will be updated as that information comes.

Leave a Reply