Touring Texoma: Gordon Brown & Pearl Harbor

In just over 2- weeks, 70- years will have passed since the "Date Which Will Live in Infamy".

And, of the 60- thousand military personnel that day on the island of Oahu at Pearl Harbor, it's estimated only somewhere around 3- thousand may still be alive.

Of those, is a 90- year old Young County man.

Gordon Brown was on the USS West Virginia.

And, like his fellow comrades, the few still with us and the many now gone, Brown knows the story of December 7th, 1941 must be passed on.

Brown: "Explode, big explosion. And, the torpedo hit the magazines evidently."

When the USS Arizona exploded at the American Naval Base in Pearl Harbor around 10- after 8, Gordon Brown was only feet away, in turret number 3- aboard the USS West Virginia.

Brown: "And they dropped air bombs too. Bomb dropped on our turret, but didn't explode. If it had, of course I wouldn't be here."

"And, you could see the torpedo planes releasing the torpedoes out in the middle of the harbor. And, you could just watch them come in. You could hear them hit, and you could feel it hit, you know. About 7- of them."

And, the West Virginia was extremely vulnerable to those torpedo attacks too, while sitting on the outside next to the USS Tennessee.

By the time those 2- hour attacks were over, the West Virginia was sunk in battleship row, and more than a hundred of her crew were killed.

"Course we stayed in our turret until the water started dripping on us, and then we had to get out. So, we went down the ladder, had to go down the ladder to get to the main deck, and that's what we saw, destruction all around. Fire, smoke, and a lot of boys swam out in the oil water."

"We went over there where the rest of the crew was already in, and mingled. Found my brother for one thing. He was over there."

Teresa Martin & Edith Rickels/Gordon's Daughters "He never talked about it much when we were growing up. And, I would say when he really started talking about it was when he retired. And, then he had of course more time, and he really started studying."

Ona Faye Brown/Gordon's Wife: "One of the things that impresses me than anything else.. all the years he spent away on Christmas."

Brown joined the Navy about a year and a half before Pearl Harbor, and was in for 6- years before going into the refrigeration business in Graham.

That's where his two sons and two daughters were raised, and where he's living his golden years, while recovering from a stroke and recent broken ankle.

Ona: "He has had surgery one time before, and he just spent the night in the hospital is all, and didn't require even an aspirin, so he's a pretty tough old guy."

Teresa & Edith: "You know, I've just always been proud." "He's my hero."

Gordon Brown may have many great years ahead of him, but with the recent stroke and ankle injury, and the fact he's living here temporarily at Graham Oaks Care Center, he knows how quickly things can change. But, now that he's in the twilight of his years, Gordon just hopes today's generation really understands the suffering and the sacrifices made by the greatest generation.

It was the attack that pulled America into World War II, and where 2,000 American soldiers and sailors were killed.

Pearl Harbor was where heroes like Gordon Brown rose up to fight another day... and win.

Nearly 20 American Naval vessels were destroyed that day, including 8- battleships and almost 200- planes.

The sunken West Virginia was raised, repaired and modernized.

And, she was returned to active service in 1944, and was even there in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered.

Brown says after Pearl Harbor, he was transferred onto a heavy cruiser, and went on to fight in the Coral Sea.

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