A 26-year Air Force veteran and his wife died of COVID-19 complications just days apart. Now, their family is asking for help in honoring the couple.
On Friday, Senior Master Sergeant Harry Brown and his wife Jo will be laid to rest. Their son, Jeff Brown, hopes to fulfill his father's wish of being buried with full military honors, but the family still lacks eight military pallbearers to carry the caskets.
Jeff says his father came from humble beginnings. He grew up in a converted train caboose in El Reno but would go on to have a successful military career. His story earned him the nickname "The Cinderella Kid."
Jeff refers to him by another name. "To me, Senior Master Sergeant Harry Brown is my hero," he says.
Every day for the last couple of years Jeff would go by his parents' house to check in. This week he goes by to look through photographs, preparing to say goodbye.
"I just sit on the floor and reflected," he says. "It will be different without them."
Describing his mother Josephine, he says, "She was as much military as dad. She was a great comforter. When you needed a shoulder, she was there."
After serving in Vietnam, Harry Brown's service would take the couple all over the world. He finally ended his 26-year career at Tinker Air Force Base.
Jeff describes his dad as a man of faith, who lived a life of service to his country and family.
"Mom was on a pedestal," he says. "Dad worshipped the ground she walked on."
The photos throughout their Yukon home are proof. The couple was married 63 years and were together up until their final week. A military couple whose final fight was with COVID-19.
"I did have the virus first and it hit me hard," Jeff recalls. "Three days later my wife texted me that my mom was coming to the hospital. A week later my dad came."
A battle with Parkinson's Disease left Josephine too weak to fight off the virus. A week after she passed, Harry would follow.
"He made a deal with God," Jeff explains. "If He would keep him here until she no longer needed him, that He could take him home. God answered that prayer."
Jeff says his mind was changed about the virus after seeing its impact on himself and his family.
"At one time I didn't consider it a threat to be truthful. Now it's real." He goes on to say, "I pray every day for the people that have this because I know how hard it is. On the ward I've heard people yelling for help, the moans because they can't breathe. It's devastating."
For the Brown family, it hit close to home.
"Dad never blamed me," Jeff says. "He said it wasn't my fault. The doctors told me it wasn't my fault. This can come from anywhere. So, for the last couple weeks I've been dealing with that to believe it's not my fault."
While this Veteran's Day was difficult, he says it was also special.
"To remember dad, to honor dad. I posted his picture last night around 1 in the morning to honor dad, to thank him for his service, to thank him for being my hero."
If you are in the military and would like to serve as pallbearer, you can contact Terry "Bones" Walker at 405-641-1617. You can also call Yanda and Sons Funeral Home in Yukon.