Nathan Ward’s October “Time Machine” submits that the eleven crewmen lost in the October 17, 1941, torpedoing of the Kearny were the first American servicemen to die in World War II. Although not well known outside the U.S. Army Air Corps Weather Service, it’s a fact that Capt. Robert M. Losey became the first American in the service of his country to die from hostile action in World War II more than a year earlier.
As the first chief commander of the Air Weather Service (since 1937), Captain Losey asked Gen. Hap Arnold to send him to Finland (which had been invaded by the Germans in 1939) to observe arctic aerial warfare firsthand. Arnold sent Losey to Finland in January 1940 as assistant military attaché for air. Later Losey was detailed to accompany the U.S. ambassador to Norway, Mrs. Florence J. Harriman, to that country. On April 21, after leaving Mrs. Harriman in a safe place, Losey went forward to observe the fighting and was killed instantly by shrapnel while watching a bombing raid on DombÅs.