Meet Brookdale Veteran Roy Boreen

“We took nine torpedoes and I lost 432 of my shipmates,” he said. “It’s a day I’ll never forget."

He wears a gold ring with a blazing blue stone, given to him by the Navy in remembrance of the attack. It’s engraved with the saying “Lest we forget, 1941.” He said he’s never taken it off. 

After they recovered the U.S.S. Oklahoma in 1943, the U.S. Navy took a picture of Boreen going up the same ladder he used to evacuate on December 7 for use as a promotional photo.  “It really brought back memories,” he said.

Boreen was born in Indianapolis, Minn., in 1920 to immigrant parents from Sweden. His father was in the Swedish Navy, and that inspired him to join the service when he was just a “youngster” at 18. “[My father] always had a desire that one of his sons would join the U.S. Navy, and that was me,” he said. “He was definitely proud."

Though he lived through dangerous experiences in the Navy, he made countless friends and had his share of good times, including traveling. “I can’t remember how many countries I went to in the Navy — too many to count,” Boreen said. “We went to Europe once and traveled off the ships and saw all these foreign countries. I loved going sightseeing. We took in all of Europe.

He spent 21 years in the service, finally retiring as a chief warrant officer four, and was happily married to his wife, whom he met while in the Navy, for 58 years before she passed. Now, he lives in a Brookdale community, where he just celebrated his 100th birthday.  “They had a big show out in front,” he said of the celebration. “They really put on a performance. There were hundreds of cars."

He even ended up in the newspaper and said it was a wonderful feeling. “I like the spotlight,” he said.

Want to hear the stories of more extraordinary seniors? Take a look at our Age is Just a Number blog posts and give us a call at 844-337-6059 to learn more about Brookdale Senior Living.

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