“The galloping Ghost of the Java Coast

 Jordan Joseph (Joe) Garrett






Biography of Jordan Joseph (Joe) Garrett



Joe Garrett was born on September 19, 1920, in Graysonia, Clark County, Arkansas, at home on his parents’ farm. He was the youngest of seven children – 5 boys and 2 girls.


His family subsequently moved a number of times within the states of Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas, but always to another farm. In 1938, they moved to Dyess, Arkansas, across the road from the Cash family where Louise Cash, who would later become his wife, lived.


In 1939, at the age of 18, Joe had saved enough money to buy his own 40-acre farm, but soon thereafter, on June 24, 1940, he decided to join the Navy and “see the world”, leaving his farm in the safe-keeping of his Dad. Each month, he faithfully sent money home to pay for it. After basic training, was assigned to the U.S.S. Houston at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard near San Francisco. In November, Houston was sent to the Philippine Islands where it became the flagship of Admiral Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet and, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, joined the ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) naval force.


When Houston was sunk on March 1, 1941, which happened to be Louise’s birthday, Joe was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He remained a POW until liberated in August, 1945. (See his “Brief Memoir” for additional information about his POW experience. See * below for a humorous memory.)


Joe married Louise Cash on March 14, 1946. He remained on active duty in the Navy until 1960 and then Fleet Reserves until 1970. Following active duty service, Joe worked until 1979 as a civilian barber at the Memphis Naval Air Station. Then he and Louise moved to Nashville, TN, where for three years he served as a security guard for Johnny Cash, singer and brother of Louise. Then for fifteen years, he was the beloved manager of building and grounds for College Heights Christian Academy, finally retiring in 2000 at age 80.


On March 25, 2003, Joe was awarded the Purple Heart and POW medals in a moving ceremony attended by about 400 including all four of his children and their spouses, numerous other family members and friends, and many school children. However, Louise, his wife of 57 years, was too sick with pancreatic cancer to attend. (She died 10 days later on April 4th.) He was presented the medals by Captain Roy Cash, USN, retired, who noted that Joe had been his inspiration for joining the Navy. The Navy Band from Memphis, TN, and a junior Navy ROTC unit added greatly to the ceremony.


* Humorous Memory

“We had some fun in Singapore and just about drove the Japanese crazy. Since we didn't have clothes, just G strings, a friend of mine, Frank Campbell, and I decided we wanted some pants. He and I swiped one of their tents and some needle and thread while they were sleeping and made us some pants! The Japs tried to find where their tent went, but never thought to look to see what kind of pants we were wearing.”


Read a Brief Memoir of My Experiences in WWII    by Jordan Joseph (Joe) Garrett   


Additional notes from daughter, Margaret Jo Klenk:

Joe Garrett was awarded both the Prisoner of War Medal and the Purple Heart medal in February, 2003 - 61 years after his ship was sunk and he was wounded and captured by the Japanese. The medals were presented to Joe by retired U.S. Navy Captain Roy Cash in a formal ceremony on March 25, 2003.