NORTHBOROUGH – When Frank Brown was young, he lived in Vermont.
His mother had him and his brother sleep together at night to help them keep warm, and she heated bricks in an oven, wrapped the bricks in cloth and placed them at the foot of the bed to keep their feet warm.
When he was a teen, he lived in the mountains with his father. They would wake up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast and get ready to go outside, hike into the mountains and spend the day cutting down wood.
“I was always freezing. My feet were cold, my hands were cold. I was always cold. I thought, ‘Am I ever going to get warm again?’ But anyway, it’s all over now, I’ve got this quilt to keep me warm,” Brown said.
He was presented with a Quilt of Valor at Vincent F. Picard American Legion Post 234 on Dec. 3.
“This is a day I will never forget,” he said.
Brown was nominated for his Quilt of Valor by Marcy Lippold.
“His remarkable memory of his years in the Navy combined with his unique story of service is why I nominated him for this Quilt of Valor,” she said.
In 1945 when he was 17, Brown enlisted in the Navy to see the world. He was stationed in Boston and assigned duty on a tugboat, spending his nights sleeping on the tugboat and his days helping tow aircraft carriers and destroyers into the naval shipyard to be repaired and serviced.
After the end of the war, Brown reenlisted. He spent a year at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois before being stationed in Hunter’s Point in San Francisco where he worked on vessels that were used in Operation Crossroads.
According to Lippold, the target vessels endured atomic weapons testing in Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The surviving ships were towed from Pearl Harbor to Hunter’s Point where Brown helped the scientists on the vessels to examine the effects of radiation. He and his fellow seamen sandblasted off radioactive submarines to decontaminate the vessels, she said.
He was reassigned and finished his service in Washington state.
Brown was married to Rhea for 72 years, and the pair have five children, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Brown has lived in Northborough for over 70 years and is the founder and owner of Brown’s TV and Appliances.
During the ceremony, he received citations from the House and Senate from Reps. Kate Donaghue and Meghan Kilcoyne in addition to the quilt.
“I would like to thank all of the people who made this beautiful quilt. It is a great honor,” said Brown.