A Century of Living: Local veteran celebrates 100th birthday

Veterans Voices

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – 100 years of life seems like a fitting milestone for a fighting sailor from Oklahoma.

Shy Manning had a shop in Southwest OKC where he bought and sold used industrial machinery.  

He still goes in every day to give advice to former customers or tries to locate machinery for them.  

But today it’s a shrine to Shy’s days in the US Navy during World War II.

In 1942, Shy joined the Navy. A few months later, he was in the thick of it as a ship’s machinist in the Pacific theatre of the war aboard the USS John Penn near Guadalcanal.

He remembers the ghastly sites of war after the John Penn off-loaded supplies to the famous battle site.

“Some of us walked off down to the water and found body parts and stuff like that,” Shy remembers. “And I said ‘forget this’…and we spent the night with the Marines.” 

Shy himself had to jump overboard when the John Penn was sinking after being hit. 

“They laid a torpedo in us and within 20 minutes the ship sunk,” he recalled. 

Shy had to swim for his life and was rescued by another ship to go on and serve until the end of the war. 

Always trying his best to stay alive. 

Shy had a lot to live for back home.   

Like his sweetheart Josephine, a young Oklahoma girl he noticed one day.  

“She went by the drugstore I used to work at. I said, ‘See that blonde? I’m going to marry her.’ That was the first time I ever saw her,” recalled Shy. 

He made good on that promise. 

They got married right before Shy shipped out to war. 

Shy and Josephine were known by friends as Jo and Shy.

Their amazing love story lasted for decades.  

They were married for 76 years.  

Josephine died last year, but the love continues.  

At a century old, Shy is philosophical about the beauty of life and about the shadows it also presents.

Always been that way really.  

Just like going to war, risking his life to fight for his country all those years ago.

“I went because I was needed,” He says. “Simple as that.”

Shy Manning at 100 years old, still going strong and representing the greatest generation.

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