By The Associated Press
HOUSTON — Two survivors of the World War II sinking of the USS Houston will gather in Texas Saturday along with relatives of their shipmates for a memorial service in downtown Houston’s Sam Houston Park at a monument dedicated to the warship.
Seventy years ago Thursday, a Japanese fleet sank the ship off the coast of Java. The ship carried 1,068 crewmen, but only 291 sailors and Marines survived both the attack and being prisoners of war.
Fifteen of the original crew members are still alive, but Howard Brooks of New Jersey and David Flynn of Florida, both 92, are the only ones expected to attend the reunion of the USS Houston CA-30 Survivors Association. ‘
The Japanese sank the USS Houston on March 1, 1942, during the Battle of Sunda Strait.
“We had no planes in the air at all, but the Japanese had planes and they were dropping what we called star shells,” Brooks said.
The warship was listing and ablaze when the order came to abandon ship.
“At that announcement, you sort of froze for a second,” Flynn, who was a radioman on the warship, told the Houston Chronicle.
Both men spent the next 3½ years as prisoners of war. Brooks was among those forced to build the Burma Railway, made famous in the 1957 film “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”