F2c Garris Vada Hodges,
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F2c Garris Vada Hodges
Like thousands of other young men throughout the country during the Great Depression, Garris Vada Hodges was poor and had few meaningful prospects for employment in his rural town of Flynn, Texas midway between Dallas and Houston.
He enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 4, 1940, and was a fireman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
He had been promoted to that job in August, and in a letter to an aunt and uncle wrote, “I guess you know fifty bucks looks pretty good.” That, he said, was his monthly pay, and is equivalent to about $850 in 2018.
Mr. Hodges was born Oct. 14, 1922 in Tahoka, Texas, population 786 about 150 miles south of Amarillo. His father, Benjamin Franklin Hodges, was a farmer and sharecropper, and his mother, Laurine Swann Hodges, a homemaker. The father was injured while serving as a private first class in World War I. The mother died in 1932, a few days after giving birth to another son.
Garris attended school and played sports in Flynn before he enlisted.
Both of his younger brothers, Lowell and Billy Joe, also served in the Navy, as did a great-nephew, Mitchell Hodges, and a great niece, Bailey Sharbrough White. She completed her first re-enlistment during Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies in December 2007. She is also the keeper of Garris’ Purple Heart.