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Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown

March 1, 1916 December 7, 1941
Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown
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Obituary for Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown

Wesley J. Brown, age 25, of Oto, Iowa, passed away on December 7, 1941, on the USS Oklahoma battleship during the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

A Graveside Service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, August 28, 2021, at the Little Sioux Township Cemetery of Smithland, Iowa, with Pastor Roy Struble officiating. Military Rites will be provided by the U.S. Navy Funeral Honors Team of Des Moines, Iowa.

The Armstrong - Van Houten Funeral Home of Mapleton, Iowa, is in charge of the funeral arrangements. Condolences may be sent online www.armstrongfuneral.com.

Wesley James Brown, the son of Randolph J. and Bessie (White) Brown, was born on March 1, 1916, in Eureka, Montana. When but a month old, Wesley along with his parents, brother Radie and sister Fern moved to Innes, Saskatchewan, Canada. They resided on the family farm that Bessie’s father established. While living on the farm, the Browns had two more children, Max and Ida.

Wesley went to school at Dunreath near Innes and worked on the farm with his father and brothers. In August 1937, Wesley moved to Iowa making his home with his mother and sister, Ida. While in Iowa he worked for his cousin on the farm.

On August 22, 1939, Wesley enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became a First-Class Fireman on the USS Oklahoma battleship. On December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crew members, one of which was Wesley. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery.

Those left to mourn his untimely departure in 1941 included his mother Bessie (T.J.) Leesley and sister, Ida Brown of Oto, Iowa; his father Randolph Brown along with brothers Radie and Max of Innes, Sask., Canada; sister Fern (Arthur) Knibbs of Cedoux, Sask., Canada; as well as numerous friends and extended family.

Although heartbroken of Wesley’s passing because of the nature in which it occurred, many are comforted in the fact that he gave his life for the freedom and liberty that we so much prize. A memorial service was conducted on Sunday, March 22, 1942, at the Morning Star Evangelical Church of Washta, Iowa.

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