December 7, 1941 is a day Noah L. will never forget. The young man sat in his early morning class at Jones’ Academy, an all-boys school, when a teacher hollered down the hallway, “Pearl Harbor has been bombed by Japan.” Noah wasted no time enlisting in military service as America joined World War II. He and a classmate went to McAlister, Oklahoma to sign up for the Navy. Noah was sent to San Diego for basic training and his friend to Chicago. “We kept in touch with one another,” Noah said. “He would write from Chicago and say it was freezing. I wrote back letting him know we went swimming every day,” the elderly man said laughing.
Though he enjoyed basic training in California, Noah could not have been prepared for his experiences in the war. He served as a second level gunner loading 35 pound ammunition into missiles on his ship. Noah’s convoy faced numerous invasions, in one instance losing a ship and several sailors. Noah still recalls the terrifying sounds of Japanese suicide bombers. “You could hear the planes coming. The sound was so loud we thought they were going to land right on our heads.”
During a 21 day journey sailing from Africa to Scotland, the Navy convoy entered a typhoon with waves up to 75 feet high! “We had to be strapped down to the ship as it was being filled with ocean water so we wouldn’t fall out.” When asked if he was afraid Noah replied, “Everyone was afraid!” To make it through the difficult times, Noah turned to his small Bible given to him by the Red Cross.
After World War II, Noah returned home and finished high school. He remained a reserve in the Navy and married Pearl in 1950. Unfortunately less than a year later, Noah was called to New Orleans to join forces for the Korean War. Leaving his new wife at home, Noah served his country once more on an aircraft carrier. Pearl remembers Noah’s absence as a difficult time in her life, but Noah was able to come home for a visit once. In addition to serving as a gunner, Noah used the skills he had learned at Jones’ Academy to serve his crew as the ship’s barber. Between the two wars, Noah spent six years of his life on a ship fighting for our country.
Rebuilding Together OKC want Noah and Pearl to remain in their home of 49 years where their four children were raised. They have shared some of their favorite activities together in this house, such as gardening and taking care of family pets. Sadly, in recent years both have been physically unable to do many of the things they love. “Noah used to do all the handiwork around the house,” Pearl told me. “But he can’t anymore,” she said pointing to his walker that he now must use to get around. Pearl herself has also had to give up on many of the housekeeping chores she once completed with pride.
The couple has a combined income of $30,000/year and financially have not been able to keep the house up to the standard they would like. Pearl and Noah, however, are still happy to call the place home. Family comes to visit almost daily and holidays are celebrated in this house full of Lewis traditions and memories. Rebuilding Together OKC desires to give back to this World War II and Korean veteran who has done so much for his country.
Rebuilding Together OKC has already provided safety repairs, including a wheel chair ramp and a shower bench and grab bars in the bathroom. But, there is still much more work to be done. To help Noah get around using his walker we want to replace the flooring to remove tripping hazards, declutter the living room and kitchen for easier access as he currently cannot move the walker from room to room, and also paint and add lighting to brighten up the home. The home’s roof and windows need to be replaced to stop leaks causing major damage and also keep the home cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. New appliances will be added and a new walk-in shower installed to make the home safer and more comfortable for the couple.