In The Navy: One by one, 5 brothers created a tradition of service

KHOU: When Vince Strain joined the Navy Reserves in May 1963, he had no idea he was starting a brotherly tradition. Vince was 17 and had to get special permission from his parents in order to enlist in the Navy Reserves. He went on active duty in September 1965. “I went down to Vietnam on two different occasions,” he said.

His younger brother Howard Strain enlisted in the Navy right out of high school, and also was deployed to Vietnam. He spent about a year in Cam Ranh Bay as an Airman, and received the Bronze Star Medal for his service. But the Strain brothers wouldn’t stop there. The next brother Charlie also enlisted in the Navy. So did the next brother Wally. And so did the youngest brother, John. By the time John enlisted in the Navy, he was deployed to the First Gulf War in the early 1990s. All five Strain brothers ended up serving in the Navy. “I guess all the rest of them just followed me. That’s all I can say,” Vince chuckled.

10 Comments on In The Navy: One by one, 5 brothers created a tradition of service

  1. One of my favorite movies is “The Five Fighting Sullivans”, the story of 5 brothers who all perished when their ship was sunk in the Pacific in WWII. After that congress enacted a law prohibiting siblings serving on the same ship. Can’t imagine being the parents of those five men, all dying at the same time. To lose 5/6ths of your children all on the same day. It would be too much for this heart of mine.

    I applaud these Navy brothers for their patriotism and service.

  2. Yes, Abigail, excellent movie, but doesn’t convey the grief that family felt.

    I’m not sure any movie could, tho.

  3. Good on ’em.

    One of the benefits of being in the Navy is you eat all your meals sitting at a table and sleep in a bunk. Not MREs, sleeping on mud or hot sand. The down side – the whole crew can end up at the bottom of the sea in an iron coffin.

    Anyway, I had seven uncles. Six of them were in the military. Four in WW2. Two in Korea. Five were Army, one in the AF, who made a career of it, so also in Vietnam. Those six uncles, and one sister, provided me with a bunch of cousins. As best I can recall, only one of them served in the military. In the Army. I’m the only one who opted for the sea.

    Speaking of serving in the Navy.
    Anyone know why Reboot has disappeared?

    Hey, we were both submariners, he lives on Guam, and my boat operated out of Guam. Though I think before he was in the USN. Just curious.

  4. @Blink
    Try contacting BFH for info on reboot.

    I was stationed on Guam at Finegayan Station from 74-76.

  5. @riverlife_callie – Thank you.

    During the summer I spend 3 weeks or so at a time at our vacation place. Very rural area and my internet access time is very limited there. I miss seeing a lot of iotwR posts while there. I recalled seeing someone post about Reboot having some trouble, but had no idea what it was about. I had assumed it was something minor, like a crashed computer or some problem with internet access from Guam, or some family troubles.

    Very sorry to hear this about Reboot. My wife does the church bulletin – I’ll have her put him on the list.

    @F4UCorsair – Cool. Small world sometimes. I made sub patrols (SSBN600) out of Guam from 74 ~ 77.

    I recall flying in from Hawaii one year just after a major typhoon hit Guam. 76, I think. Maybe you were there when it happened.

    The storm flipped over the berthing barge where the oncoming sub crew slept for two nights before taking over the sub from the other crew. The barge was washed inland a a few hundred yards. I’d guess the sub tender the USS Proteus AS-19 must have gone to sea during the storm.

    The typhoon also wiped out the rhombic antenna and the amateur radio shack at Polaris Point. Which was a bummer. No more radio patches back to family in Hawaii during the 3 week refit before going on patrol for 72 days.

    However, flying in with the jungle smashed down by the storm made the wreckage of WW2 battlefields visible from the air, which prompted us to explore them during the two weekends before going to sea. Some guys actually entered the Japanese caves and tunnels. Not a wise thing to do imo.

    The weirdest encounter was after walking around the battlefield on the hill above the Pacific War Memorial (3d picture down on the following website) when we found several Japanese sailors at the memorial had arrived while we were on the hill above it. They were weeping it out, cutting the grass, and leaving little prayer things, food, & flowers on the alter inside. (similar to the 8th picture down)

    We spoke no Japanese and they no English. We just tried to give friendly greeting to each other.

    But, It was surreal encounter. We’d just toured a battlefield with old rusted out tanks where both sides killed each other 32 years earlier. The thought occurred – What If – we entered the Twilight Zone, and were suddenly jumped back in time 32 years. Instead of trying to give friendly greeting, we’d have been trying to kill each other. I believe the memorial is at the site of the Japanese commander’s HQ. Thus the fighting there was very intense. .

    The memorial was not so nicely groomed in the 70s as it is now as shown in the picture.

  6. …..thanks for your dedication and service, but you’ll can stand to lose a couple of pounds and prolong your life!


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