Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story is a fast-paced, compelling chronicle of a man, from his upbringing as a poor Southern youngster, through his exploits in the South Pacific during WWII, to a successful entrepreneur and modern day world traveler in his late-80s. Courage overcame his lack of education, social barriers, and lowly expectations, continually elevating his stature in life.
John Seagraves was born the oldest of seven children in the pre-Great Depression South. Raised in dire poverty, he often stood by his mother’s side helping to feed his siblings. With a sense of responsibility for his family despite the failures of his stepfather to provide steady income for the family, John chose a more difficult path. Rather than go to school like most boys, he took odd jobs starting at age 10 to help feed his family. The industrious boy however showed signs of entrepreneurship early, as he had no qualms about quitting a job if he thought he could do better on his own.
One week before his seventeenth birthday, John enlisted in the Navy and ultimately served on Battleship USS North Carolina. On April 14, 1945, the 18-year-old sailor and his gun crew defended the ship from an attack, which caught everyone else by surprise. Being the first gun group to spot and target a kamikaze plane headed directly toward them, John fired upon the deadly plane, downing the aircraft just 30 feet from the battleship. This isolated act saved untold lives and the ship’s legacy under the most severe circumstances. By the end of WWII, the USS North Carolina would become the most successful and highly decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history.
Courage overcame his lack of education, social barriers, and lowly expectations opening doors to opportunity for John, helping to define him and his character. In a collision of American, African American and Navy history, John holds center stage having impacted the lives of many people before, during and after the war. The family man, with a tireless work ethic and drive to succeed, faced obstacles in the South and during WWII with enthusiasm, relocated and started a family in the North after the war, and found prosperity sharing his passion for cooking with the world. He continues to live a vibrant life as a successful restaurant owner and avid traveler with his wife Mildred.