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Story of local WWII veteran shared

August 18, 2011

Don Loe, 1941

“It’s your turn to stay in
Hawaii for a few days with
the captain’s gig while
your less lucky fellow
sailors have to go to sea.
You, like everyone else
there, believe you are safe.
You no more fear attack
than we do here. You get
up and put on your Sunday
morning white uniform.
Your ship is due in that
day, so about 7:50 you get
in the captain’s gig to go
to the fueling doc for gasoline.
Another boat on the
same mission is less than
half a mile ahead of you.
About five minutes from
shore, you see a low-flying
plane, but you have no
cause for alarm. You are
17 and think it is one of
yours doing maneuvers.
Even when you see the red
circles under the wings,
you presume they are just
making it realistic. The
plane is flying really low,
so low you could hit it
with a rock. Suddenly, it
opens fire and the boat
ahead of you disappears.
You look back at the plane
and see it is now strafing
the hangers on the island
and you understand the
unbelievable, you are
under enemy attack. You
head for the nearest dock,
about eight to nine hundred
yards away, jumping
from the boat and running
for cover. Everyone has
realized what is happening
and officers are beginning
to organize some
kind of defense. Weapons
are being passed out with
instructions to shoot anything
in the air. Next you
are given a pick-up to start
collecting the wounded to
the first aide station. You
also begin to pick up the
dead. You put some of the
bodies in boxes, but you
soon run out of boxes. All
the time, the attack continues.
You are not prepared
at 17 for anything
like this and suffer nightmares
for 15 years.
Survival doesn’t mean just
living through the war, but
the horror of losing so
many comrades.”
That was how Darrell
Pierce described the wartime
service of one of his
parishioners, Don Loe,
one of the inhabitants of
LeFlore County still alive
today, to survive the attack
on Pearl Harbor during
World War II. At the time
of the attack, Loe was just
17 years old, not yet old enough to vote. Loe served in
WWII and also in the Korean War. When the first boat
landed at Inchon, Korea, Loe was in command.
After the war, Loe was a police officer in LeFlore
County, the first park ranger at Wister Lake State Park,
and quietly served the city of Heavener and his church
for many years.
For the past 65 years, Loe has been married to his
wife, Flora, with whom he has three children, Donald
Loe, Jr, Kathy, and Barbara. The Loes also have six
grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Loe was presented the Pearl Harbor Survivors Medal
57 years after he earned it in 1941.
Though he was subject to the horrors of war, and lost
many friends and comrades along the way, Loe stated,
“I was proud to serve my country.”
Now a resident at the Heavener Nursing Center, the
nursing staff is proud to serve him. They wanted to
share his story.

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