Bob Gecy - (April 18, 2017)
Seaman First Class Broadus West memorialized with marble bench at Veterans Monument
Each year on the anniversary of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, a group of local residents remember one of their own lost on that day. Broadus Franklin West was born in Simpsonville, South Carolina to Marcus Franklin West and Effie Estelle (Wood) West on December 9, 1915. He was one of more than 2400 Americans who were killed on that day of infamy.
While serving as a Seaman First Class aboard the USS Arizona on that fateful day, tragically, West lost his life at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He became one of the first casualties of the Second World War.
Broadus joined the Navy on February 8, 1940 at a recruiting station in Raleigh, North Carolina. It would be almost 2 years before World War II began with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Seaman West was assigned to the USS Arizona on January 8, 1941. His duties as a Seaman First Class found him responsible for knots, steering and signaling as well as gunnery duties. He was aboard the USS Arizona and is officially listed as unrecoverable among the 900+ souls who are until this day entombed in the Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
The following awards were issued posthumously to Seamen Broadus Franklin West: Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, Asiatic- Pacific Campaign Medal with Star, and the World War II Victory Medal.
In a book written by Donald Stratton who miraculously survived the surprise attack, he insists, “I’m no hero. The real heroes are still out there in the harbor.”
In honoring the local hero, a group of classmates and friends who attended the old Simpsonville High School back in the 1930s and 40s came together to plan a memorial in memory of Broadus F. West. This group of citizens decided on having a bench dedicated to Seamen West’s memory installed at Veteran’s Park on Main Street in Simpsonville. Originally led by Jeff Richardson, Herman Campbell, and Bobbie T. Stroud, a group of Simpsonville senior citizens began plans for this Memorial. When Jeff Richardson and Herman Campbell passed away Bobbie Stroud was left as the member on the bank account for the monies collected for the memorial. She continued on soliciting these funds from the group members as well as other members of the Simpsonville community until they raised enough money to fund this honorable project.
In November 2016 a proposal was presented to the City Council and the then City Administrator, David Dryhaug, to consider allowing this group to design and install a marble bench engraved with the name Broadus West. The plan was to install the bench at Veteran’s Park.
With funds in hand the group hired the Gillespie Marble Company to prepare the bench that has now been installed at Veteran’s Park. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with this committee to honor one of our own… Broadus West”, added committee member Bobbie Stroud. “We hope with the installation of this bench that his memory will forever live in our hearts and in the hearts of future generations.”
Friends of the
Broadus F. West
Charles & Iduna
Bud & Dot Hammond
Walker & Mary
Frank & Hazel Kerns
Mary Ann Chandler
Bobbie Tumblin Stroud
Billy Watt Garrett
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