Charles Thomas CLEVELAND 1920–1942

Charles Thomas Cleveland was born on 25 July 1920 in Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona, fourth son of William Jasper and Helen Lucille Cohen Cleveland.

Charles Thomas grew up on the Oak Thicket Ranch near Bisbee, Arizona - known by his family and friends as "Tom".

According to the 1930 Federal Census, the family was living in Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona: William CLEVELAND age 50, Rancher; spouse Helen age 30, Children: George age 13, James age 12, Calvin age 11, Thomas age 9, Robert age 6.

In 1938 at the age of 17, Thomas was working as a miner near Naco, AZ. According to a letter dated April 12, 1938, he wrote to his mother: "I finished my Discovery Shafts Sunday..." "I sure had it easy today the Driller's Boss nor my Boss was around all day I had to tend to the sludge..."
{Read the full transcript of Tom's 14 April 1938 letter}

A year later Thomas was working for Tuck Potter and had a Lowell, AZ address. A letter to his mother dated September 27, 1939 stated he was "putting up hay" and considering moving to Flagstaff: "When do those outfits up there start branding? I would like to go to work for a while up there I am tired of these outfits there all so darn sorry and cheap. It won’t cost me over $12.00 dollars to go there on the stage."
{Read the full transcript of Tom's 27 September 1939 letter}

In February, 1942, Thomas completed a WWII Draft Registration card, listing his father as the person who would always know his address, and his employer as Phelps Dodge Corporation. He signed the card "C. T. Cleveland". {WWII Draft Registration Card}

He served in the U. S. Naval Reserve during WWII, serving as a Seaman Second Class on the SS Stephen Hopkins, where he was killed during an attack by two German raiders on 27 September 1942.

Charles Thomas Cleveland

From “Gallant Ships of World War II Merchant Marine - SS Stephen Hopkins”

"Early on the morning of September 27, 1942 two German raiders suddenly appeared out of the morning mist to attack the SS Stephen Hopkins. Heavy guns of one raider pounded her hull, and machine gun fire from the other sprayed her decks at close quarters. The lightly armored merchantman exchanged shot for shot with the enemy, placing thirty-five shells into the water line of one of the raiders until its crew was forced to abandon their sinking ship. The gun commander was mortally wounded early in the action, and all of the gun crew were killed or wounded when an enemy shell exploded the magazine of their gun. At the explosion, Edwin O'Hara ran aft and single-handed served and fired the damaged gun with five live shells remaining in the rerady box, scoring direct hits near the water line of the second raider setting it on fire. O'Hara was mortally wounded in this action. With boilers blown up, engines destroyed, masts shot away, and ablaze from stem to stern, the gallant merchantman finally went under carrying O'Hara and several of his fighting shipmates with her. [The survivors were rescued after 31 days in a lifeboat.] The stark courage of her crew in their heroic stand against overpowering odds caused her name to be perpetuated as a Gallant Ship."