Every Veteran Has A Story
Oris James Brinson was born December 3, 1898 in the far east Texas town of Timpson, Shelby County to Martha Jane “Mattie” Bowling and Zachariah “Zach” Brinson. He had two brothers Bertram and Rex, both who served in World War I. Another brother, Alpa tragically died in infancy. He also had a sister, Joyce Brinson Tooke. He attended Timpson High School completing two years. His father owned a farm located on Garrison Road in Precinct 7 where he and his siblings grew up. (1) No doubt each of the children had specific chores to help out.
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917 and Oris was nineteen years old when he registered for the military draft September 12, 1918 at the county seat located in the town of Center. At that time he was employed as a Telephone Lineman for the South West Telephone and Telegraph Company. He was described as of medium height and build with gray eyes and dark hair.(2) Although of prime age Oris was never called to service. It could have been that his civilian employment was vital to the nation at that time.
The 1930 Census found him living as a lodger at 243 Grovel Street, Smackover, Union County, Arkansas where he was employed as a crude oil electrician.(3) The following year he moved to Gregg County, Texas where he and Miss Doris Gamage were married October 18, 1931 and Oris was employed as an electrical engineer. Sadly ten years later, August 8, 1941, Doris died at the age of 34.
Four months following his wife’s death, the Japanese attacked the Naval facilities at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the United States entered another world war. At age 43, on February 16, 1942 Oris registered for the military draft a second time in his life at Longview, Texas. He was employed by the Ark-La Gas Company, Shreveport and his registration card showed he was five foot, ten inches tall, 180 pounds with hazel eyes and black hair.(4) The following October he was inducted into the US Navy and voluntarily assigned to the US Naval Construction Force (NCF) nicknamed “Seabees”. The first volunteers were tradesmen that received advanced rank for their trade skills. This resulted in the Seabees being the highest-paid group in uniform. To recruit these men, age and physical standards were waived up to age 50 with the average age being 37.(5) Oris’ electrical engineering background no doubt helped him to be accepted at age 43.
The book “Men and Women in World War II from Shelby County” shows that following the oath of enlistment he took his “boot training” at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia and then served in the Pacific at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Russell and Peleliu Islands. Pacific Seabee deeds were historically unparalleled. The Pacific was where 80% of the Naval Construction Force literally built the road to V-J-Day. Seabees built nearly all the airfields, piers, ammunition bunkers, supply depots, hospitals, fuel tanks, and barracks required to make it happen on 300 plus islands.(5)
With the Japanese unconditional surrender, September 2, 1945, the war ended and Oris was honorably discharged six days later. For his service he was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
Returning to Shelby County he and Birdie Louise Barrow were wed on June 1, 1946. He continued his occupation as an electrician for the Cities Service Oil Company until retirement. Oris died at the age of 87, twelve days before Christmas, December 13, 1985 at the Panola General Hospital, Carthage, Texas. He was of the Methodist Faith and a member of the local Masonic Lodge. His funeral was held December 15 at the Taylor Funeral Home Chapel, Timpson with the Rev. Claud Taylor officiating. Survivors as listed in the Longview News-Journal, Longview, Texas, December 15, were his wife, Birdie Barrow of Timpson; son Frank Morris of Houston; granddaughters Sharon Stewart of Timpson and Ramsey and Kim Morris of Houston; two great-grandchildren and several nieces. Day is done, God is nigh.