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Jesse Walter Arbor was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, on December 26, 1914. He graduated from high school in Cotton Plant, then studied for three years at the Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. At the time of his enlistment in the US Naval Reserve, he as Pullman porter and was also operating a tailoring shop. Earlier he had worked as a waiter and doormen in a Chicago (Illinois) hotel.
He enlisted in the US Naval Reserve on September11, 1942 and had advanced to Quartermaster First Class, when he received his appointment as Ensign, USNR, March 1, 1944. He was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), to date from August 1, 1945.
After receiving his commission in 1944, he reported in June of that year as Company Supervisor at the US Naval Barracks, Manana, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. He remained there until February 1945, after which he had duty as Division Officer/Battalion Commander at the US Naval Barracks #1, Naval Supply Depot, Guam, Marianas Islands. Assigned in December 1945 to Headquarters, Ninth Naval District, Great Lakes, Illinois, he continued to serve there until April 1, 1946, when he was released from active duty. He was honorably discharged from the Naval Reserve on October 15, 1954.
Lieutenant (junior grade) Arbor has the American Campaign Medal ; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.