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'Let's Go Thunder': Barnsdall tornado victim roots for OKC amid devastation

Posted at 10:12 PM, May 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 13:12:44-04

BARNSDALL, Okla. — Marine veteran John Henry Mashunkashey had lived in his Barnsdall home since the 1970s before Monday's tornado.

When tornado sirens blared, his granddaughter, Lauren Harjo Mashunkashey, took action.

"I grabbed him, and I put him in the closet, and I sat down kind of on top of him, braced myself against the door, and was holding the door," she said. "My only priority in those moments was to make sure my grandfather was safe."

As they waited in the rubble to be rescued, John Henry said his military instincts kicked in, and the sight of the destruction brought him back to Vietnam.

"I've seen a lot of damage, but this here is more of a warzone to me," John Henry said.

It's a total loss of his home, and crews demolished it on Sunday morning.

But in the meantime, there's a lighter message on the front lawn: a sign that reads, "Let's go Thunder!" John Henry is still cheering for OKC amid the chaos.

The twister totaled all three of his cars.

On Saturday morning, a glimmer of hope appeared.

"I had a Marine come by and gave me a pick-up. Came by and said, don't buy no pick-up. I'm going to give you one right now," John Henry said.

With a new set of wheels, John Henry says Barnsdall is now in the rearview mirror.

"I kind of don't want to leave, but yet I don't want to rebuild," John Henry said.

After demo day, he'll patch the grass and put the lot up for sale, but the memories will never fade.

"I'll never be able to leave this house in my heart because my wife built it," John Henry said.

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