Saturday, June 25, 2016
Obituary: Joseph Hittorff Jr.
Joe’s family resided in Springfield, MA for a brief time where his father was a commercial traveler for a coffee company. Marion, Joe, and their parents then moved to 211 Virginia Avenue in Westmont, NJ. When Joe was a junior in high school, his mother died. In 1934, Joe graduated from Collingswood High School. He had managed his high school football team during his senior year and had attained the rank of Eagle Scout. After graduation, he attended Brown Preparatory School for English and math. Joseph had always wanted to go to sea, and so he chose to start a career in the Navy.
In June of 1936, he entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated in 1940. His initial assignment was serving on board the battleship USS Oklahoma, a 583 foot battleship attached to the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Joe had completed all of the requirements for being promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade but his commission had not come through at the time of his death.
Joe sent frequent letters home. In one from November 2, 1941, he expressed concern that there were war clouds on the horizon, and he was "expecting the worst -- and hoping for the best." On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The Oklahoma sank, and Joe was among the casualties along with 395 enlisted men and 19 other officers. Seven days later, a telegram was sent to his parents and sister saying, "The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, Ensign Joseph Parker Hittorff, Jr., United States Navy, was lost in action."
Joe’s Naval Academy ring was recovered from the wreckage at a later time. Also returned to the family was a ceremonial sword from Annapolis. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the American Defense Medal.
On March 7, 2016, seventy-four years and three months later, Joe’s remaining family members were notified that his remains had been identified after being disinterred from the Punch Bowl Cemetery in Hawaii. Sadly, his oldest living relative, Marie Camp of South Kent, CT passed away early this April. Marie, her sister Amy Nissen of Nassau, New York, and cousin Norma Medlicott of Zephyrhills, FL were all first cousins of Joe and Marion.
A funeral has been planned for June 18 at 11:00 in the Kent Congregational Church, Kent CT with burial immediately after in the Kent Congregational Cemetery.