Electrician’s Mate 1c Van Lee Eastland Jr, US Navy, was married to Mrs. Helen Alice Eastland of Baxter Lane, Quincy, Massachusetts. He was the son of Van Lee Eastland and Mayme L. Wilson. Brother of Ealizabeth Eastland.He attended Hiwassee college at Madisonville, Tennessee and joined the navy in July, 1940. Eastland’s father, V.L. Sr., is an internal revenu agent in Chattanooga.
His ship, the USS Hoel, was sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
His name is memorialized at Fort Bonifacio, Manila, the Philippines.
The Chattanooga Times, June 8, 1943
Van L. (Buck) Eastland, who was at first reported killed in action in the Jap raid on Pearl Harbor, is home on furlough and is visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Van Eastland, 1917 Union Avenue. Eastland now wears five campaign bars on his blouse, some with a number of stars. He declined to give any details of why or how he won the citations other than to say that one had been awardded after the campaign at Casablanca. “Buck”was stationed on the U.S.S. California when the Japanese struck and force the United States into the war. The California was so badly damaged, Eastland said, that she was sent to the bottom to keep her from turning over on her side. She has since been salvaged and is now in use again. “By the way,” Eastland said, “you know the chaplain on our ship was the one they claim was the inspiration for the son, ‘Praise the Lors and Pass the Ammunition.’ We had a crew of Negro cooks, and as the battle grew serious they started in to man a gun whose crew had been picked off. Each of the Negroes was doing his best and as the chaplain passed them he gave them the word of praise that was instilled into the first fighting song America has originated during the war.
“Van was in several “small” battles and run-ins, he admitted, but would say little of his actual experiences other than that he had been placed on an aircraft carrier following Pearl Harbor and that the carrier had suffered a torpedo hit. “We had been making about knots,” Eastland said, “but we steamed her up to about 18 knots and made port with only a small list.”
It was at this time that he learned of his “death”. “we had been at battle stations for weeks, we were all jumpy, nervous and tired. I got a shore leave when he hit port and was going to sort of relax. But the first thing I did was run into a fellow from Chattanooga who was getting The Chattanooga Times. He showed me an issue that told of my being killed at Pearl Harbor. I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there a minute, then pinched myself and looked at my credentials I figured there must havve been a mistake. “I hurried to send my mother a cablegram. That was one time I think that I did send her some good news, and believe me, I was glad to be able to.”
Eastland said he had seen action in several spots in the Pacific and some in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Although he would not say much about his part in the landing, it was learned that “Buck” was in the naval engagement at Casablanca. “The story has been told,” Eastland said, “and mine was such a small part that it is hardly worth mentioning. I can say for all the fleet,” Eastland concluded, “that in the strikes that have been sweeping the nation, we can only feel that we are being fought from front and rear. We feel that capital and labor should be as liable to courtmartial as we are in time of war.” Eastland is on a 15-day furlough.
- Rank: Electricians Mate First Class
- Date of birth: 15 July 1918
- Date of death: 25 October 1944
- County: Hamilton
- Hometown: Chattanooga
- Service Branch: Navy
- Division/Assignment: USS Hoel (DD-533)
- Theater: Pacific
- Conflict: World War II
- Battles: Battle of Leyte Gulf, Pearl Harbor
- Awards: Purple Heart
- Burial/Memorial Location: Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
- Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Bottom Panel
- Contact us to sponsor Van L. Eastland
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