Lupe Higareda’s short life began on February 4, 1924, when he was born in Galesburg, Illinois, to Manuel and Mary Higareda, who were both born in Mexico.1 Lupe came from a large family with eight siblings.2 They ranged from age 4 to 20 on the May 10, 1940, census and included twins. He went to Galesburg High School and had the nickname of PeeWee. He registered for the draft on Feb. 6, 1943, in Knox County. His birth date on that document was Feb. 5, 1925. He was a junior in high school at that time and worked Saturdays at C.B. & Q.R.R. as a laborer. Shortly after, he was serving with the U.S. Navy Reserve as a Seaman, 2nd Class during WWII.
On August 2, 1944, Lupe was serving on the ship U.S.S. Fiske (DE 143), that was part of the hunter-killer Task Group 22.63 formed around the escort carrier U.S.S. Wake Island (CVE 65) and was detached together with the destroyer escort U.S.S. Douglas L. Howard (DE 138) to investigate a visual contact.4 The surfaced U-804 quickly dove and fired three Gnats (called German Navy Acoustic Torpedo (GNAT) by the British)5 on the approaching warships between 15.31 and 15.36 hours. The first missed, but after three minutes the second hit the U.S.S. Fiske on her starboard side amidships and possibly the third struck her, too, after four minutes, 30 seconds. The U.S.S. Fiske broke in two after 10 minutes with both parts drifting apart and eventually sinking vertically about 800 nautical miles east of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Thirty-three crew members were lost, including Lupe.6 His body was never recovered. The survivors, among them the commander and 50 wounded men, were picked up by the destroyer escort U.S.S. Farquhar (DE 139) and taken to Argentia Newfoundland for medical attention and subsequently to Boston. The U.S.S. Fiske received one battle star for her WWII service.
The loss of the Fiske raised to 175 the number of American warships lost since the war began, including 134 sunk, 32 listed as overdue and presumed lost, and 9 destroyed to prevent capture by the enemy.7
Seaman Higareda appears on Tablets of the East Coast Memorial New York City, Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, and has a cenotaph memorial at the Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart8 and is considered MIA and buried at sea.9