NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — War stories are often traded on the decks of the USS North Carolina, but this tale is somewhat different than the rest. From passing gunpowder to saving the ship, an uncommon hero refused to give in to racial stereotypes and fought for our freedom while battling for eqaulity in World War II.
“When he came to the 2009 reunion he was asked to tell his story because he was in this picture,” explained David Seagraves, as he spoke about his father. “They’ve had this picture and they didn’t have a date for it they just had this photo and they encouraged him to tell his story.”
John Seagraves’ story is that of a hero. He shot down a Japanese kamikaze that was headed straight for the USS North Carolina.
“At the time, I was in the saddle for the 20 mm and I started firing along with the other four 20 mm and the 40 mm,” recalled John Seagraves. “My feelings at the time were we were firing and I could see the two Japanese pilots in the plane. Finally shot the plane down and the plane landed maybe 40 yards from the ship.”
Seagraves says he didn’t initially share the story with his son because he didn’t have fond memories of his time on board.
“The North Carolina was a ship to me, that a part of my life for many years I just resented coming back here for the reunion because of the segregation of most of the sailors on here,” said Seagraves.
Regardless of the segregation, David Seagraves says his dad ended up on top which is why he thinks his story is worth telling the world.
“He never took no for an answer. He never quit. He just never accepted the status quo. Accepted what society wanted him to be or wanted him to do,” David said.
Seagraves says he thinks it’s important to remember the sacrifices of those who came before us.
That’s why he wrote the book about his father and why he thinks it’s important for everyone to read.
“The great depression lead to the greatest generation. They did a lot of things. They suffered through a lot of things. We have it easy as a result of them. So if we took a little bit of time to look at it, we’d see how far we’ve come,” said David.
You can pick up a copy of the book, “Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story” in the Battleship’s store or online.
The Seagraves are also in talks to turn the book into a movie, which they would like to film right here in Wilmington.