December 27, 1921 (Collinsville, CT) – December 7, 1941; 19 years old
Father listed at 330 East Hill Road, Canton (Collinsville)
Enlisted on December 27, 1939
Service number 2072507
USS Nevada (BB-36)

Born to John Einar Luntta (1886-1948) and Wendla J. Kovanen Luntta (1890-1941), both born in Finland. Brothers Elmer (1912-1979), Hans (1919-2008), and Eero “Pete” (1925-1986). Sisters are Tyyne M. (1908-1912), Viola M. Luntta Vienot (1914-2014), Kyllikki “Jeannie” Luntta Tosterelli (1916-2003) and Tellerva “Selma” Luntta Jenkins (1917-2012).

Report of Changes from the USS Nevada dated December 31, 1941, listing Seaman Luntta as “Killed In Action”

From The Hartford Courant January 3, 1942

Collinsville, Jan. 2. – (Special) – Word that John K. Luntta of this town, serving in the United States Navy, had been killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor was received Friday by his father, John E. Luntta of East Hill. The son enlisted in December 1939, shortly after becoming 18 years of age. Two brothers of the youth are also in the Navy and one was reported to be on the same battleship but no word has been received concerning them.

From At 0910 on December 7, 1941, at Hospital Point, the crippled USS Nevada was trying to escape the harbor when Japanese planes concentrated their attack on it. Afraid that if the ship sank, it would block the harbor entrance, Admiral Pye ordered it beached five minutes after its skipper, Captain Scanlan, came aboard. The Nevada had three officers and 47 enlisted men killed, and five officers and 104 enlisted wounded.

From Today magazine, August 2020, page 7, used with permission from author David Leff

Luntta was the first Valley serviceman to die in WWII

Canton’s John K. Luntta, Navy seaman first class, was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while aboard the battleship the USS Nevada.

He was the first Farmington Valley service member to be killed during World War II.

Luntta grew up on East Hill, where his father J. Einar Luntta, a native of Finland, was a farmer.

Einar described by the Farmington Valley Herald as “a direct-eyed, genial character,” was also a polisher in the Collins Company knife handling department and served on the Canton Board of Selectmen.

John had left his Canton home shortly after enlisting in 1939, right after turning 18. His brothers Hans and Elmer were also in the Navy at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Their younger brother Eero would join the Navy at age 17 in 1943.

When word came of John’s death, Einar was worried that Hans might also have been killed since he was thought to be on the same ship. It wasn’t until late February that an anxiety-ridden Einar received a letter from Hans indicating that he was well.

Elmer, who was on shore duty, also sent a letter that buoyed his father’s spirits. Einar had last seen his three older boys in August 1941, after about a four-year absence.

With his youngest son, Einar traveled to California, where John and Hans were on leave from Pearl Harbor. On his return trip, he visited Washington, where Elmer was attending military radio school.

John was interred at Nuuanu Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. In 1947, his body was sent home for burial in the Village Cemetery in Collinsville. A military funeral was conducted by the Albert E. Johnson American Legion Post.

John K. Luntta is listed among the casualties on a plaque at the National Park Service’s visitor center at Pearl Harbor.

David Leff is an award-winning author of 12 books, including “The Last Undiscovered Place,” which is about Collinsville — see his work at

Seaman Luntta is buried at Collinsville Cemetery, Huckleberry Hill Road, Collinsville, Connecticut. Photo by webmaster.

Memorialized on the Canton Veterans Memorial, 23 River Street. Canton, Connecticut.


Published by jeffd1121

USAF retiree. Veteran advocate. Committed to telling the stories of those who died while in the service of the country during wartime.

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