May 1, 1917 (Hamden, CT) – December 7, 1941; 24 years old; unmarried
Hometown listed as Joliet, Illinois on December 7, 1941; born in CT, attended Yale
Enlisted on September 30, 1940; Commissioned March 14, 1941
Service number O-097031
USS ARIZONA (BB-39)
Received the Purple Heart Medal. In the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Ensign Edward Webb Gosselin had just been promoted to the officer in charge of 90 men who ran the boilers, hydraulic machinery and fuel supply on the USS Arizona when he was killed in the attack. He graduated from Yale, as did his mother, Florilla, from the Yale School of Music in 1911. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1940 before working briefly in Indiana. He played golf and football (150 lb league) at Yale and was a member of the Yale Political Union and St. Elmo Society. His father, also named Edward, President Phoenix Manufacturing Company, Joliet, Illinois, and Graver Tank & Manufacturing Company. Sources: From Bobbie Jo Carter, University of Arizona and Yale Obituary Record of 1940 and 1941
From The Hartford Courant January 24, 1942
New Haven, Jan. 23 – (AP) – A series of letters published today by the Yale Alumni Magazine told the story of a young Naval Reserve ensign who had hoped for a Christmas rendezvous with his parents but instead kept one with death at Pearl Harbor. They were written by Ensign Edward Webb Gosselin, who was graduated from Yale in 1940, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward N. Gosselin of Joliet, Illinois, the first on May 4, 1941, the day after he arrived at Pearl Harbor to report for duty on the USS Arizona; the last on December 1. Wrote Ensign Gosselin on:
May 4 – We arrived in Pearl Harbor yesterday morning. I feel mighty happy about finally getting to my own ship.
May 11 – Gradually I’m beginning to settle down to some hard work, and I like it immensely. Naturally, I’ve got a lot to learn about my job yet.
May 14 – I have all the work I can possibly handle, but I certainly am crazy about it and like my ship a great deal.
July 10 – We don’t leave the ship very much anymore as there is just too much to be done. With the tempo of the United States policy of intervention in the war daily increasing we can’t know our jobs too well. To me it’s a great opportunity and, as I’m beginning to learn something. I feel a little more valuable to the good old U.S.A. just in case.
September 9 – Do manage to get in a poker game with the boys but have to limit myself to once or twice a week because of time.
November 1 – We heard the Army – Notre Dame game at 8:30 this morning. It was mighty disappointing to hear that Yale had lost to Brown. She just can’t seem to find herself this year.
December 1 – Something which has made me feel quite proud of my progress is that last week I was made a full division officer. Mother and dad, there is a very slim chance (so slim I hate to mention it) that I may be able to get home for a couple of days around Christmas time. If I did get a chance to get home, a little cash towards helping me make the trip from the coast would be a mighty fine Christmas present to me. But then I’m not very optimistic about it at all; however, it’s something great to think about. I’ll be hoping.
On December 7, Ensign Gosselin became Yale’s first son to die in a new war.
From Yale archivist Judith Schiff comes this tale of a Yale alumnus who was among those who gave their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941:
The anniversary of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 reminds us to be grateful for the supreme sacrifices made by young men of Greater New Haven and Yale.
One of them was Edward Webb Gosselin, a 1940 graduate of Yale College, who was born in Hamden and died on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His name, rank, and date and place of death are inscribed on a tablet in Yale’s Memorial Hall (between Woolsey Hall and the University Dining Hall), whose memorial walls inspired the design of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington.
Gosselin was the first Yale alumnus to lose his life when America was plunged into war with Japan. After being commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in March 1941, he was immediately assigned to duty with the Pacific fleet aboard the USS Arizona. In November he was promoted to full division officer in charge of the battleship’s boiler, hydraulic machinery, and fuel supply. He died aboard when the Arizona blew up after receiving a direct hit from an aerial bomb. Not long before his death he wrote to his parents: “Mine is a great opportunity and I’m anxious to learn something more. I feel just a little more valuable to the U.S.A. – just in case.”
The Navy named the USS Gosselin in his honor. It was one of the first ships to enter Tokyo Bay prior to the surrender of Japan in September 1945, and the first radio broadcast from the Japanese harbor was sent from this vessel.
Namesake of the USS Gosselin (APD-126). Edward Webb Gosselin, born 1 May 1917 at Hamden, Connecticut was educated at Yale University. He enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman 30 September 1940 and was commissioned 14 March 1941. Ensign Gosselin’s first duty station was battleship ARIZONA (BB-39). He reported on board 3 May 1941 as an Engineer when she was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Ensign Gosselin was officially declared dead as of 7 December 1941.
USS Gosselin (APD-126), launched 17 February 1944 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Michigan, was laid down and partially completed as destroyer escort DE-710; sponsored by Mrs. Edward Napolean (Florilla) Gosselin, mother of Ensign Gosselin, and commissioned 31 December 1944, Lt. Comdr. Joseph B. Fyffe in command. The ship was in Tokyo Bay, carrying journalists to and from the USS Missouri, when Japan signed the surrender papers ending the war in September 1945.
Memorial at Mount Olivet Cemetery Joliet, Will County, Illinois
USS Arizona Memorial
Memorialized Courts of the Missing, Court 3, Honolulu Memorial, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Hawaii