Honoree: Pvt. Joseph Brady Wadsworth, USMC
Speaker: Capt. Sisco Deen, USAF Retired
On Memorial Day, our nation remembers those members of our military services who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as their comrades who served with them and who are no longer with us. We pay tribute to those who knew the risks, who knew the odds, and who marched onward.
Today, we will be honoring Pvt Joseph Brady Wadsworth, United States Marine Corps, a veteran of World War II. He was known as Joe to his Marine buddies, Papa to his children, and Brady to the rest of us.
At daybreak on December 7, 1941, the U.S.S. Oklahoma’s band, under the direction of Flagler County’s own, Chief Petty Officer James Booe was assembling on the battleship’s deck at the American Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to render morning honors.
Shortly after the band’s assembly a few minutes before 8 a.m. Hawaii time, on this otherwise calm Sunday morning, they found themselves under attack by Japanese military forces.
The surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 a.m., the second at 8:55 a.m. By 9:55 a.m., it was all over.
Some 3,500 Americans, including Chief Petty Officer James Brazier Booe, who went down with his shop, were killed or wounded in the attack.
On December 8, at 12:30 p.m. our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and the nation via radio and asked for a call to war. The Senate responded with a unanimous vote in support; there was only one dissension in the House. At 4:00 p.m. that same afternoon, President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war.
276 of Flagler County finest, whose numbers included eight women, answered the call to defend our county. Twelve of these servicemen died in the service of their county in World War Two.
19-year-old Joseph Brady Wadsworth, the man we are honoring today, was one of the 23 members of the Class of 1942 of Bunnell High School… which turned out to be a class of World War II heroes.
I say a class of heroes in that two of Brady’s classmates; Marine PFC Howard Bankston, was killed on Peleliu Island on September 20th, 1944 and Army PFC Julian Durrance was killed in action in France on January 9th, 1945.
Brady’s other classmates who served our country in World War II were Shelton Barber, USMC; Howard Hunter, US Navy; Dexter Knight, USMC; Sambo McDaniel, US Army; John Pellicer, US Army; Aubry Sheffield, US Navy; and Alfred Tucker, US Army.
In an oral history Brady recorded for his family in 1987, he said:
“On Sunday when word came over the radio that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor, I was in the country at our St. Joe home” ……. His St Joe home would have been at the St Joseph’s turpentine still which was located in today’s Palm Coast, west of the McDonald’s Restaurant a short distance from Old Kings Road.
Brady went on to say: “The first reaction I had was anger that the Japs would talk peace out of one side of their mouth and then attack my county out of the other side….
My second reaction was to grow from a boy of 19 years to a man of 19 years…… I knew that my county needed me and I had to enlist.”
Brady, a four-year football letterman and member of the Future Farmers of America were serving as President of the Bunnell High School senior class when he dropped out of high school and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on January 9th, 1942. He was sent to boot camp at Parris Island and seven months later landed on Guadalcanal with the 2nd Wave of Marines on August 7th, 1942. He dug his fox hole and helped erect barbed wire on the beach at Hell Point, Te na ru River.
Pvt. Wadsworth was wounded in three places by Japanese machine-gun fire at Tenaru River Battle, August 21. This portion of the battle was recorded as follows in the 1943 book entitled GUADALCANAL DIARY:
“Private Joe Wadsworth had occupied a foxhole on Hell Point at the time early yesterday morning when the Japs made their all-out effort to cross the Tenaru Sandbar and penetrate our lines. He had fired at them with his automatic rifle, killing several until his gun jammed. Then he had picked up a Springfield rifle and fired with that, and finally, when the Japs had come close, he had jumped up and ran to meet them with his bayonet. Then he had been knocked down. But he refused to be evacuated until the more seriously wounded had been cared for…”
Brady was knocked down by two, 25 caliber bullets; one hit his left hand and one hit him in the groin. When he started crawling under the barbed wire toward his foxhole, he was hit by the third bullet to the back.
After receiving emergency medical treatment by a Navy corpsman, he was evacuated by destroyer to Espiritu Santo where he received advanced medical treatment and was later taken by hospital ship to a hospital in New Zealand for further treatment.
Private Wadsworth was discharged at Jacksonville Naval Station on February 18th, 1943 …. Only one year, one month and nine days after his enlistment. Following his military service, Brady served as Flagler County Supervisor of Public Instruction from January 1945 to March 1946.
Brady was born to Lewis and Lotta Littledale Wadsworth in Interlachen, Florida on May 2nd, 1922 and died in Lufkin, Texas on December 29th, 2002. He was married to the former Daisy Ruth Buckles who was born in St Johns Park in 1924 and who died in Lufkin in 2010.
He was a graduate of the University of Florida with B.S. degree in forestry. Brady retired as the Regional Manager, Texas Division, St Regis Paper Company in 1985 and then did forestry consultant work.
Brady had three siblings; a sister, Betty and two brothers, Billy for whom Wadsworth Park in Flagler Beach is named and Lewis for whom Wadsworth Elementary School in Palm Coast is named.
He and Daisy Ruth had four children, Sylvia, Candy, John and Cindi who all are with us today.
In closing, I would like to thank you for attending today’s ceremony and would ask you to remember one thing when you leave here today – A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount “up to and including my life.”
All gave some… some gave all!