Freedom Fighters: Johnny Brown - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Johnny Brown

Johnny Brown. Source: KLTV staff) Johnny Brown. Source: KLTV staff)

Johnny Brown has found that a sense of humor helps him through his most difficult days.

"I've gotten to the point that if I don't make someone laugh at least once a day, my day's ruined."

Brown was injured while in the Navy when a boat fell on him while being repaired.

"It fell over me, crushed that knee and messed up my hip and some ribs."

Brown spent a year in the hospital, enduring 18 surgeries and three knee replacements.

"I stay in constant pain, the pain level runs from eight and a half to nine constantly, 24 hours a day."

Brown joined the Navy in 1970 simply because he liked boats. But war was looming and in 1972 he was deployed to the Vietnam, assigned to small craft which were used to patrol the rivers and along the shore line.

"Well there's a lot of fire going on, don't know which direction it was coming from, but it was running loose there."

The Vietcong shot at Brown's boat with everything from bullets to mortars.

"There were mortars and everything and they had tunnels over there all the way up to the river banks and you never knew where they were going to pop up."

Ironically, Brown was never wounded during his frequent firefights. But in 1973, Brown's life was changed forever.

"I had a small boat being repaired, fell on me and messed my leg up."

Brown was medically discharged from the Navy in 1976, although his firefights in Vietnam and the falling boat continue to haunt his dreams. In spite of his pain and the three major strokes and six heart attacks he's endured since his discharge, Johnny Brown brings laughter into the lives of others.

Also after his discharge, Johnny Brown served as commanding officer for the Tyler division of the Naval Cadet Corps, instilling his love of the Navy in youngsters. Always proud of his time in the service.

"I feel I done my duty and if I was in teh same situation again, I'd do it again."

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