Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo 
                                WWII veteran Dale Brown shows a drawing of himself when he was in Czechoslovakia circa 1945.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo WWII veteran Dale Brown shows a drawing of himself when he was in Czechoslovakia circa 1945.

World War II Veteran turns 95

Issaquah family and NJROTC surprise Dale Brown.

On Saturday, March 30, Issaquah resident Lee Anna Hayes and the Issaquah NJROTC surprised World War II veteran Dale Brown with a birthday cake and a clean yard.

Brown sat at his kitchen table with an open booklet of old photographs, sharing war stories. Outside he saw the ROTC team raking leaves and hauling full garbage bags.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Brown said about the team outside his Sammamish house. “I like yard work and I like to keep it spotless and it’s been bugging me.”

Hayes — who is more like family with Brown — said Brown, even at the age of 95, tries to do everything himself. Hayes said he was “resistant” when her family would try to help clean his yard. The Hayes family “adopted” Brown into their family 15 years ago.

Weeks before the surprise, Hayes had already been coordinating with Chief Matthew Spears from the Liberty High School NJROTC.

Spears said they were all in when Hayes contacted them.

“It’s all about service,” he said. “We’re designed as a citizenship development program where it’s not about recruitment… (It’s) designed to take high school students in the enrollment program and make them better citizens when they walk out.”

Eight NJROTC members came to Brown’s house on Saturday, and Spears said it was a way to fulfill community service and a way to honor Brown.

The Issaquah NJROTC volunteered to clean Dale Brown’s yard as an act of gratitude for his service. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

The Issaquah NJROTC volunteered to clean Dale Brown’s yard as an act of gratitude for his service. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

Brown was in the Army for four years. He served from 1941 to 1945 – two years in England and two in mainland Europe.

Reminiscing, Brown told stories that had everyone in the room laughing. Brown was known as the clever solider and the go-to guy. When he wasn’t being a “trouble maker” Brown accomplished a lot.

Brown said he received three Bronze Stars during his time at war. He shot an enemy plane down, “accidentally” captured three S.S. Russian officers, and saved 500 soldiers.

After the war, Brown went on to be a power lineman for nearly 50 years. During his life, Brown enjoyed skiing (until the age of 80), traveling, spending time at his cabin, volunteering at a children’s hospital and working with horses.

“I’ve had an interesting life,” Brown said. “I think that if I had to do it over again, I’d do about the same thing.”

After a few hours of cleaning, the ROTC team and the Hayes family gathered in Brown’s garage to eat pizza and cake. Stories were exchanged and the room was full of life and laughter.

“It makes us happy when we see him happy,” Hayes said. “I wish we would have met [him] earlier because we could have enjoyed each others time a little bit more.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

The Issaquah NJROTC cleaned Dale Brown’s yard and celebrated his 95th birthday on March 30. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

The Issaquah NJROTC cleaned Dale Brown’s yard and celebrated his 95th birthday on March 30. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

From left: John Hayes, John Hayes, Lee Anna Hayes, and Dale Brown. The Issaquah family has known Dale Brown for 15 years. They consider him family. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

From left: John Hayes, John Hayes, Lee Anna Hayes, and Dale Brown. The Issaquah family has known Dale Brown for 15 years. They consider him family. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

Dale Brown celebrated his 95th birthday in his Sammamish home on March 30th. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

Dale Brown celebrated his 95th birthday in his Sammamish home on March 30th. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo

More in News

First WA state prisoner tests positive for COVID-19

The man is the first person in Washington to contract the disease while in a state prison.

Students will not return to classrooms this school year

Monday’s decision applies to all schools — public, private and charter.

Drive-thru COVID-19 virus testing last week in the parking lot near Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett. A study by the University of Washington and UnitedHealth Group, conducted at Everett Clinic locations, found that a less-intrusive form of the coronavirus test would require fewer precautions by health care workers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
New self-swab COVID-19 test is just as accurate, study finds

The study, under peer review, was led by an Everett Clinic doctor. It could speed up testing nationwide.

Life Care Center (LCC) of Kirkland is facing more than $600,000 in fines for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak in its facility. Samantha Pak/Sound Publishing
Life Care in Kirkland facing more than $600K in fines for COVID-19 response

The facility has until Sept. 16 to pay or address areas of concern or it will be terminated.

Dentist checking patient’s teeth. Sound Publishing file photo
Dental foundation serves Medicaid patients through COVID-19

The Arcora Foundation is also attempting to expand its urgent care database, allowing those with different insurances to use its services during the outbreak.

Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference April 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Inslee’s Facebook page)
Gov. Inslee extends stay-home order to May 4

As in other states, demand for intensive health care due to COVID-19 is expected to peak later in April.

Unemployment claims continue to climb

For the week of March 22-28, claims have reached more than 181,000.

Inslee to state businesses: Pivot to make medical equipment

The governor said Wednesday that the state must become self-reliant in the fight against COVID-19.

Most Read