Siblings recall brother killed at Pearl HarborPublished 9:45pm Thursday, December 6, 2012
Navy Fireman First Class Howard David Hodges bought and shipped home Christmas gifts for all of his siblings shortly before he was killed when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces.
Hodges was on the USS West Virginia during the infamous raid.
“He bought me a necktie, and it was postmarked Dec. 7,” said his brother, Garland Steven Hodges.
Garland Hodges was 14 when his 20-year-old brother was killed.
“He was what they call a third-deck firefighter, so he was three floors below the deck,” Garland said. “He never got a chance to get to the first deck after the thing got hit.”
The Hodges had a farm off what is now Smaw Road. Hodges said his brother, Howard, was an accommodating brother. He pitched in anywhere he was needed on the farm.
Howard Hodges also was generous. Garland Hodges recalled the time his brother bought a new bicycle. He shared it with all of his brothers.
“There were 15 of us kids — a baseball team of boys and a volleyball team of girls,” Garland said.
At one point, four Hodge brothers were fighting in the war at the same time. Garland Hodges likes to say there were five of them there at once. He counts his brother Howard, who was killed three years before Garland Hodges followed in his footsteps and enlisted in the Navy.
Chocowinity resident Helen Hodges Martikke was only 4 years old when her brother was killed. Howard Hodges had sent her a necklace.
“I wish I still had the necklace,” she said. “Mama kept it in the cedar chest for a long time.”
Most of her memories are of the stories her older brothers and sisters told. Helen Hodges also got to know her brother through the letters he had sent home.
“I remember reading letters, and he wanted to hear the chickens. My parents were farmers, and he just wanted to hear the sounds of home,” Martikke said.
Helen sent in a sample of her blood to be used to compare DNA samples and identify Howard Hodges’ remains.
Unfortunately, Howard Hodges’ remains have not been recovered. This will be another anniversary spent at his Oakdale Cemetery memorial.
Garland Hodges and Helen Martikke have visited the USS West Virginia memorial at Pearl Harbor. Martikke said she wanted to visit on behalf of her mother.
“I know it was hard on my parents,” Martikke said. “My dad signed for him (to enlist). He wouldn’t sign for another one after that.”