Unknown Sailor

CCMP Brainerd Wells Andrews

Brainerd Wells Andrews sent the 1941 Thanksgiving menu for the U.S.S. Arizona home to his parents in Vermont.

“Thought maybe it would make you hungry, Ha! No visitors aboard on that day,” wrote the carpenter’s mate and chief petty officer. “There used to be, but this war scare has put a stop to all that.”

Ten days later Mr. Andrews and 1,176 shipmates were killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, pulling the United States into World War II.

Mr. Andrews was born Aug. 31, 1910, in Roxbury, Vermont, to Homer Andrews, then a quarryman, and Eva Bell Andrews, a homemaker. He joined the Navy soon after he graduated from high school, his mother said, along with his brother George. They joined because there were no good jobs for young men after a flood devastated the state in 1927, she told reporter Jim Worthy of the Burlington Free Press on the 25th anniversary of Brainerd’s death.

Mrs. Andrews did not want her sons to enlist. “I said I would rather bury them than to have them in the Navy and get killed.”

But their father approved, with the caveat that the sons learn a trade.

Brainerd spoke of building a shop after he got out of the military and joked that “it would be a place that he and dad could go when mom was mad at them.”

He was one of four Andrews brothers who served in World War II. Two others were also in the Navy and one in the Army. They survived.

“When the boys came home, I used to take a lot of pictures of them,” their mother told the reporter. “You never know when something is going to happen.”

At Pearl Harbor today, the shrine room on the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial — built over the sunken battleship — features large marble panels inscribed with the names of the men who died. The marble is from a Vermont quarry and was sandblasted by a Bosnian immigrant who served in the army during the war there.

Nedim Mustafic told a correspondent for Valley News that his 2014 work to replace decaying panels at the Arizona memorial was an honor, but that he knew “how terrible war is.”

“There were 125 guys in my unit, only 11 are left including me. When I go home to Sarajevo for visit, the first stop is cemetery. Putting names of those heroes on marble is privilege but it brings sad memories.”

Sources: reporter Jim Worthy of the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press; Valley News of West Lebanon, New Hampshire; Vermont birth record; Veterans Affairs death files;
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