Veteran Salute: WWII vet influenced so many with his talents

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Newton veteran said when he started at Boeing his team was working on the two wing Stearman plane, they then moved on to the B-17 and finally the B-29 program.

He went on to make quite the mark in metal finishing for the Navy.

Byron Brittain said the Navy realized how important it was to train the next generation of fleet maintenance in all things metal finishing, and he was the one who made it happen.

“Rescue boats, so to speak, and water training,” WWII Navy Veteran Byron Brittain said.

Although that may have been this young sailor’s job in boot camp, his first assignment landed him in Norman, Oklahoma.

“That’s a land locked base,” Brittain laughed.

Brittain said he was taken to a hangar.

“I was told this is the plating shop and there’s your equipment, so tell us what you need to build this plating shop,” Brittain said.

So that’s what he did, but his duties went far above that.

“I wrote the first training manual and so my legacy to the war effort was that I established a plating course for fleet personnel in metal finishing,” Brittain said.

Brittain also worked as a civilian helping the future of fleet maintenance and his contributions to those in service continued, he moved out of the shop and onto the stage!

He was the baritone in a barber shop quartet for more than two decades.

“For a little while we were entertaining them, we were trying to brighten up their day,” Brittain said.

The group did a USO tour overseas during Vietnam.

“That was an experience that when I see anybody that served in Vietnam, I take my hat off to them, because those guys were, they went through some bad, bad stuff,” Brittain said.

He said they tried to track down all those from Kansas they could, and would even call their parents to let them know how they were doing.

“That was as much an effort for the war effort, that I did, that had some influence on a lot of little kids,” Brittain said.

It’s safe to say Brittain had an influence on many young lives, from his days of teaching the basics of metal finishing all the way to the war zone, he’s seen a lot in his 100 years.

At a recent party thrown by family, there were some special guests, who wear uniforms he is quite familiar with, as some sailors showed up to wish him a happy birthday.

Brittain is an avid golfer and just recently fulfilled a lifelong wish, by playing with his three sons and grandsons.

He says they played 6 holes that day!

Brittain is also a pilot and flew the quartet he sang with all over the country.

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