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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Pleasanton council considers funds for highway signs honoring Navy casualty at Pearl Harbor

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Morgan Brown addresses the Pleasanton City Council about making a donation for signs that commemorate his uncle who died in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

PLEASANTON – Trying to meet a deadline of March 31 to raise funds to purchase signs marking a stretch of U.S. Highway 69 officially named AMM2c Walter Scott Brown Memorial Highway, the president of the Trading Post Historical Society asked the Pleasanton City Council to make a donation to help buy the signs at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

While the council didn’t agree to the donation that night, it didn’t say “no.”

Ali Hamilton, president of the society, told the council that the Linn County Commission had tentatively committed to match other donations for the signs.

The total cost for the two signs, one at each end of the designated section of the highway, is nearly $14,000. Once the signs are installed, the Kansas Department of Transportation would be responsible for upkeep of the signs.

Hamilton also asked for help in creating and printing a brochure that told about Brown.

The Kansas Legislature passed a resolution naming an approximately 10-mile section of U.S 69 after Brown. The section of the four-lane highway runs from the interchange of Kansas Highway 52 going east to Butler, Mo., and the interchange of K-52 going west to Mound City.

Brown was a Navy aviation machinist from Pleasanton who was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. During the attack, Brown tried to get a patrol seaplane in the air but was killed as Japanese planes strafed the Naval Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.

Brown, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., was awarded a commendation posthumously, and a Navy destroyer escort ship that bore his name performed escort duty in the Atlantic during World War II.

Morgan Brown, a rural Pleasanton resident and a nephew of the Navy hero, was at the meeting and gave some background on the family. He said his father, Patrick, the youngest of the four brothers, was 17 when he signed up and deployed to the South Pacific. All four of the brothers fought in the war..

“Folks, I can’t tell you what an honor it is for my family to have this section of highway named after a Pleasanton boy,” Brown said.

“The only reason we’re here tonight is to honor him and hopefully get some financing to try to put this memorial up,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t only be for his family but would be another tourist attraction for the community.

“If you folks feel like donating, we think that would be wonderful,” Brown said.

Councilman Jake Mattingley said the council would need to look at it and see how much they could afford to donate.

“Our family is going to be donating and supporting,” Brown said, adding that also included family that lived in Louisiana.

The council asked Hamilton if they could come back and give them an update at the March 6 meeting.

City Administrator Teresa Whitaker said one possible source for funding could be funds left over from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). She said that money had been earmarked for engineering studies on a couple of projects, and once she had estimates on those, there could be money left to help with the signs.

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