Opal F. Chilcote (1941/05/31)
The first Santa Cruz County World War II casualty to be listed in Watsonville's Roll of Honor was a thirty-one year- old army nurse.
Opal Fern Chilcote was born in Hanley, Iowa, on July 21, 1909, to Thomas and Estelle Chilcote. Also included in her family were four brothers, four sisters and a half sister. Opal spent a large portion of her formative years in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the Chilcote family resided, but returned to Winterset, Iowa, where she graduated from St. Charles High School.
After being employed in a local doctors office for two years, she entered and completed a three-year nurse's train- ing program at Lutheran Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. She later left the school's hospital and moved to Fresno where her mother resided. Opal then relocated to Watsonville and for two years was employed in the Third Street Hospital.
When the US began mobilization in early 1941, Opal Chilcote applied for a position in the Army Nurse Corps and was accepted. Commissioned a second lieutenant, Lt. Chilcote was assigned to an army facility in San Luis Obispo, California. On May 31, 1941, while boating in Morro Bay with friends and army associates, the boat in which she was a passenger capsized, throwing the occupants into the water. Opal Chilcote was drowned in the accident. Her body was recovered and sent to Fresno, California, for burial.
Second Lt. Opal Chilcote's death was the first (active duty) military death to be entered into the Pajaro Valley World War II Roll of Honor.
(WRP June 2, 1941 1:2, December 7, 1942; Winterset [Iowa]
Madisonian - June 4, 1941)