John C. Brown
2nd Division
USS West Virginia

John C. Brown, Fireman 1/c, born May 18, 1926, Cardinal, KY; and attended three and one-half years of college. He joined the USN March 17, 1944, and was stationed aboard the USS West Virginia.

On Easter Sunday, 1945, a Japanese kamikaze pilot crashed into the USS West Virginia off Okinawa, killed four men and trapped three others in a boiler. Fireman 1/c Brown was among those trapped. For seven hours, a 500-pound unexploded bomb hung over the trapped men, while above decks squads worked to disassemble the bomb before it disassembled the ship. The chaplain could be heard over the PA reporting each step taken; Brown knew one false move, and his head would have been blown off, and the ship sunk.

He served in the campaign which liberated the Philippines from the Japanese; through Iwo Jima and Okinawa; and completed his tour of duty aboard the West Virginia all the way to Tokyo Bay and home again. He was discharged May 17, 1946.  He married Rosella and they have nine children.  He worked as a night shift foreman for Reactor Controls at the Zimmer nuclear power plant site in Moscow, OH, for 47 1/2 years. He is also a handwriting expert.

Reprinted with permission from Turner Publishing

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