NAUGATUCK — Joining the Navy at the young age of 17 didn’t seem out of place for Jules Andes Brinchman.
“I was 17 when I went in. World War II was going on. Everybody else was going, so I wanted to go too,” Brinchman said.
As for his decision to join the Navy, it never even seemed like a choice.
“I was always a Navy person. I come from Portland, Maine, and that was always a Navy town,” Brinchman said.
Brinchman, 88, served aboard the USS Ault, a destroyer, from 1944 until 1946 in the Pacific Theater. He left the Navy with the rank of seaman second class.
During his two years in the service Brinchman saw some major battles, including the Battle of Okinawa and the Battle of Iwo Jima. Brinchman said the USS Ault did a lot of shore bombardment during those two battles. He also fought during the Liberation of the Philippines.
The USS Ault was with the USS Franklin when the latter ship was hit by kamikazes, he recalled.
“We were picking up the survivors off of that,” Brinchman said.
Brinchman was also serving near Hiroshima in August 1945 when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city.
“A week after the bomb in Hiroshima I was there, walking around in Hiroshima. At the time you didn’t think nothing of it. You’re just a young kid, 17. What do you really know,” Brinchman said.
However, fighting wasn’t the only thing Brinchman saw during his service. The USS Ault was among the ships in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese formally surrender Sept. 2, 1945.
“I was at the signing of the peace treaty in Tokyo Bay,” Brinchman said.
Brinchman returned to the United States after his service. In 1950, he found a home in Naugatuck. He has been a resident of the borough the past 65 years.
While his days of service are behind him, Brinchman is still happy to share his experiences with the younger generation. On Tuesday at his home, he shuffled through hand-drawn cards from elementary school students thanking him for visiting their class, in order to find a picture of him surrounded by the students.
Now, the borough will honor Brinchman’s service to his country.
Brinchman will serve as the grand marshal for Naugatuck’s annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday.
“We are looking to highlight the service of Naugatuck’s World War II vets. The World War II generation is leaving us quickly. We want to make sure those service members are recognized and honored why they are still with us,” Naugatuck Veterans Council Chairman John DeBisschop said.
Brinchman said he is honored to serve as the parade’s grand marshal.
“It means a lot. It’s a great honor and a privilege,” Brinchman said.