Joseph Leonard Whitehead was born on 17 July 1917 at Maryville, Tennessee, the son of Hattie Buchanan Whitehead.
He was killed in action on 8 December 1941

330th Signal Company, Aviation Signal Corps

Pvt Whitehead was killed in action in the Pacific area. He was initially buried at the USAF Cemetery Manila No. 2 Philippine Islands. Awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. Buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery, Y, 415.

The Chattanooga Daily Times, 27 September 1948
Summers-Whitehead Post 14, American Legion, has written all Chattanooga civic organizations offering each the opportunity to participate in the proposed ceremonies in honor of Pvt. Joseph L. Whitehead whose body is being returned from an overseas battlefield grave for final burial here. Pvt. Whitehead was the first man from Hamilton County to die in his country’s service in World War II. He was killed in action in the Philippines the day after Pearl Harbor Day. The legion post’s letter, signed by George Harding, chairman of the memorial committee of the post, states: “We are asking all local civic organizations to join forces in a city-wide commemoration of all veterans from Hamilton County, who lost their lives on the battlefield of battle in World War II, by paying tribute to Pvt. Joseph L. Whitehead. Pvt. Whitehead was the first member of the armed forces from Hamilton County to fall mortally wounded on the field of battle in World War II. We would like to have a delegation from your club attend the funeral of Pvt. Joseph L. Whitehead, at the National Cemetery. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on a date to be designated later. The mother of Pvt. Whitehead has been notified that the body has arrived in the United States and that a 48-hour notice will be given previous to the arrival of the body in Chattanooga. You will be informed of the exact date of the funeral.”

Pvt. Whitehead was killed during the raid on Nichols field. He attended Hardy Junior High School and enlisted in the army at the local recruiting station on June 12, 1941. He is survived by a brother, Bert Whitehead, and by five sisters, Mrs. Lee Dunn, Mrs. Roy Kirby and Mrs. Jimmy Nelms, all of Chattanooga, and Mrs. Della Potter of Nashville, and Mrs. Doris Smith of Pennsylvania.

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of birth:
  • 17 July 1917
  • Date of death: 8 December 1941
  • County: Hamilton
  • Hometown: Chattanooga
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 330th Signal Company, Aviation Signal Corps
  • Theater: Pacific
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Battles: Pearl Harbor
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar X, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Joseph L. Whitehead

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