VIENNA - When Lynn ''Jay'' Clower made the trek to Honolulu, Hawaii, on Oct. 21, 1944, to visit his brother, Warren, the Vienna native knew his participation in the Pacific Theatre portion of World War II was just around the corner.
''I knew I was heading out,'' Jay said. ''I had three days liberty and the only reason they let me go down there was because they knew my brother was there with the Marines.''
Now, nearly 70 years later, the two men recalled the fateful meeting just before Jay was shipped to the Philippines aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer.
Tribune Chronicle/Ashley Newman
Warren Clower, 87, left, and his brother, Jay, 92, of Vienna served in the military during World War II.
''Neither one of us drove so we didn't go out and get drunk or anything,'' Jay laughed. ''We didn't have any money anyways. I don't think he had any more than I had, which was nothing.''
With a third Clower brother, William, already serving in battle since 1941, Jay was resigned to his fate.
''I wasn't too serious about going over,'' Jay said of the impending assignment into the heart of the battle. ''I knew it was going to happen. I guess I didn't have sense enough to be scared or anything.''
Meanwhile, Warren, who joined the Marines 10 months earlier, received a permanent personnel assignment in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This designation meant he would spend the remainder of the war working with the motor transport school and supplying local bases, including Pearl Harbor, with needed supplies.
Warren also understood being chosen for the permanent assignment meant not going into battle outside the country.
''With that, I knew I wasn't going to be going overseas,'' Warren said from his Buena Vista Avenue home. ''It was just the luck of the draw.
''You just did what they told you. That was it. Whatever you were assigned to do, you did it,'' he added.
When their brief encounter ended, Jay boarded a destroyer and hit the rough seas of the Pacific Ocean.
''They said, 'there's only one way to go from here and that's West,' '' Jay said. ''That's what we did.''
It didn't take long for Jay to hit the Philippines and then the shores off of Okinawa, with a full-scale invasion already underway. The 320 men aboard his ship conducted radar picket duty, which meant scanning the area for submarine or air attacks along with an occasional search and rescue mission.
Jay watched as ships around him were torpedoed and hit with suicide planes.
''We lost 55 destroyers there,'' Jay said. ''We lost more destroyers at Okinawa than in the whole entire war.''
One incident in particular stuck with Jay, as his ship awaited a fuel supply ship to refill their fleet. Suddenly, over the radio, he heard an unfamiliar voice.
''Tokyo Rose came on the radio and told us they knew we weren't going to get out of there alive and there were torpedoes on the way,'' Jay said.
''Tokyo Rose'' was the Allied forces' name assigned to about a dozen English-speaking female broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. They spent much of the war attempting to dampen morale of the Allies by falsely announcing attacks within the United States or warning soldiers of their impending doom.
The strategy put the men aboard the destroyer on edge, but didn't result in an attack.
''Luckily, we did get out of there,'' Jay said.
Later, Jay watched as a suicide plane was shot down as it veered toward his destroyer.
''I'd say no more than 100 yards in front of us, at the most, and they hit him,'' Jay said. ''I was getting ready to run, but I didn't know where to run to.''
At the end of the war, the 320 men aboard the destroyer escaped the war, but Jay and Warren's oldest brother wasn't as lucky. He was the first brother to return home to Vienna, followed by Jay and finally Warren.
''We all lived around one another in town, so we were together all the time after the war,'' Jay said. ''We were all just so glad to be home. Forget the war.''
While Warren and Jay shared war stories in the decades following the end of World War II, their oldest brother was less inclined to join the discussion.
''Bill saw some terrible things over there,'' Warren said. ''He was in the Pacific for 42 months without a single furlough. He lost a lot of friends, but he would never talk about the war.''
Bill died of a heart attack in 1969 at a VA hospital in Cleveland. His brothers believe the memories of the war stayed with him until the very end.
''I think he had (posttraumatic stress disorder), but we didn't know anything about it back then,'' Warren said. ''Just the way he was, it was different after the war.''
Now 92 and 87 years old, respectively, Warren and Jay remember their time in the service by chatting on Warren's back porch.
''We have a lot of family picnics,'' Warren said.
Both men kept in contact with the crewmates who served alongside them.
''I have one good Marine Corps buddy left,'' Warren said. ''We still talk and he even came to Vienna to stay with us one time.''
Meanwhile, Jay has attended 26 reunions held for the members of the 320-man crew aboard the destroyer.
''We went all over the country, from Las Vegas to Baltimore to St. Louis,'' Jay said. ''I think there are just three of us left, but up until last year we kept the reunions going.''