Each day in the Airport Authority’s Quieter Home Program, we get to interact with all kinds of interesting homeowners. Quieter Home Program Coordinator, Catherine, recently met an extra-special homeowner, John. Relaxing in his Point Loma condo with June, his wife of 63 years, John might seem to be your mild-mannered retiree. His friendly demeanor and twinkling eyes belie his dramatic, intense past.
Catherine learned that John is a well-decorated soldier who has witnessed much during his military career. In 1942, the then-18-year-old soldier was serving his country far from his home state of Minnesota. He was Seaman First Class on the USS Houston (pictured here), the largest U.S. combat vessel in the far Pacific during World War II.
With more than 1,000 men on board, the Houston became trapped after the attack on Pearl Harbor destroyed any hope of reinforcements. After a fierce fight against hopeless odds, the battleship was sunk and 368 survivors were taken prisoner.
From 1942-1945, John and the remaining crew were prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) in Japan, where they endured unimaginable conditions and treatment.
John was awarded the Purple Heart for his valor and sacrifice for his country.
Today, John and June are enjoying their retirement in Point Loma. John has traveled around the country sharing his experiences, honoring the brave men he served alongside and working for veterans’ rights. He was also involved in establishing the USS Houston Memorial Monument in Sam Houston Park, located in downtown Houston, Texas (pictured here). Last year he was honored, and laid the wreath, at the Veteran’s Day ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
John and June are just one example of the fine “neighbors” we get to meet on a daily basis. Stay tuned for more stories about the homeowners from the Quieter Home Program!
Special thanks to co-authors Beth and Catherine.