to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead

3.9 Bands of brothers

3.9a Texas brothers:

Among the POWs from the 131stst FA, there were the Dove twins (Miley & Denton) as well as the Schmid twins (Eldon & Ellis) and 11 sets of brothers:

POW nameRANKmansell partyFINAL STATUSdate of deathCODUNIT
Barnes Don HenryPVTKIA-AAFnot POW-dec3-Feb-42KIA-Java131st FA F
CAMPBELL Charley JamesCPLFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA F
CAMPBELL Leonard Cecil       “Humpy”SSGOTH-Sg (Zg)OTH-J131st FA Hq
CLAY Joseph FranklinPVTFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA F
CLAY Melvin Lee “Corky”PVTFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA F
DOVE Denton R               “Pappy”CPLTharpTBR-Th-VN131st FA D
DOVE Miley DayPVTFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA D
DRAKE Henry CharlesPVTTharpTBR131st FA Svc
DRAKE Teddy NormanCPLE BattOTH-EJ131st FA E
FRIE James WilliamPFCFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA F
FRIE Marion Lee               “Baldie”PVTFitzsimmonsTBR-Fz-VN131st FA F
HALL Howard LeeSGTTharpTBR-TH-dec2-Aug-43Dysentery131st FA Hq
HENSLEY Jim EdgarPVTFitzsimmonsTBR131st FA F
HENSLEY John CarlSGTTharpTBR131st FA F
OFFERLE IRVIN OSCAR “Big”SGTTharpTBR-TH-dec18-Nov-43Tropical Ulcer131st FA D
OFFERLE ROY Maxwell “Litte”SGTTharpTBR131st FA D
SCHMID Eldon Woener “Els”CPTTharpTBR131st FA Svc
SCHMID Ellis ParsonTSGTharpTBR131st FA Svc
SHERRILL Cosby Ray “Pupsie”PFCFitzsimmonsTBR131st FA F
WILSON Edwin ParisCPLTharpTBR-TH-dec12-Jun-43KIA Allied bombing131st FA D
WILSON THOMAS AltonPFCOTH-V-BCOTH-V-dec-sea24-Jun-44lost at sea131st FA D

The Oklahoma-born Dove twins were both sent from Singapore (Changi) to the Thai-Burma Railway but were separated to different work camps there. They were unaware of each other’s fate until they re-united in Bangkok while en route to Saigon after the railway was completed. 

After the war ended both were discharged and returned to Texas, but they decided to continue their military careers and re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1946 shortly before it became the USAF. Both rose in rank and retired as CMSGT.  Their careers separated then most of the time except when they served over-lapping tours at Clark AFB in the Philippines.

The Schmid twins both served in the Battalion HQ with Eldon as a 1LT and Ells as a Tech SGT.  Both remained in the ARMY and in 1954 Ells was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. Eldon retired as a Colonel. Ells lived out his life in Lubbock, TX while Eldon moved around the State.

The Clay brothers both enlisted in the TXNG at its HQ in Jacksboro, TX and had almost consecutive SNs (20814128 & 20814132). They seemed to have stayed together throughout their stint on the railway. Both were discharged in 1946 and spent their lives as farmers in East Texas. Melvin, the elder, died in 2006 at age 88; Joseph in 2007 at age 87.

The Sherill brothers also enlisted together at Jacksboro TX. Cosby returned there after the war and lived out his days there (he died in 1996) while brother Cloe settled in Pasadena CALIF where he died in 1979.

The Frie Brothers also enlisted together in the TXNG in Nov 1940. After liberation, they returned to different towns in Texas: James to Graford and Marion to Iowa Park.

The Hensley brothers were also separated into different camps and only re-united after liberation. Both returned to Vineland (Jay County) TX after the war. Jim the younger brother passed away in Jacksboro TX in 1986 at age 63. The elder brother John died in Houston in 1988 (aged 68).

The Campbell brothers traveled the most. Leonard was left in Singapore by the Zeigler Group but was eventually also sent to Japan. Charley worked the TBR in Burma with the Fitzsimmons Group before being sent on to Saigon.

Teddy Drake and his brother Henry were separated early on. Teddy stayed behind at Surabaja with E Battery and was sent to Japan. Henry worked the TBR with the Tharp Group.

DEC 2022 Update: I have recently learned that within F Battery alone were the following brothers:

Earl and Leon Sparkman

Don and James Chester

Clinton and Thurman Graves

George and James Duckworth

Roy and Troy Gregg

John H and John C Hensley

Jesse and John Hicks

Alvin and Wakley Rumage

CC and Charles Smith

3.9b Not all survived

Tragically for four sets of brothers, not all survived:

Worse of all, the 2 Wilson brothers perished. First, Edwin was KIA in the bombing of the Thanbyuzayat hospital camp on 12 JUN 43. His brother, Thomas had been left behind on Java and perished while being transferred to Japan in JUN 1944.

Of the Barnes brothers, Don was one of the first TXNF to die when the plane he was in was shot down during the first air raid at Singosari. Daniel survived as part of the Fitzsimmons Group. The Hall brothers were seemingly a bit better off than the other pairs in that they were both in Burma with LTC Tharp. That is until Howard dies of Dysentery on 2 AUG 43.

Only Roy Offerle survived the POW experience; his brother. Irvin died in 1943 in Burma of complications from Tropical Ulcers. Roy returned to Laredo, TX where he lived until 1998. They are buried together at the Ft. Sam Houston Nat’l Cem.

SGT Roy Offerle

3.9c and friends: Army 1LT Clyde Fillmore came across a fellow Texan in a TBR camp. They learned that although they had never met that they were from the same county (Wheeler) and that their families had been longtime friends. USMC PVT Fred King’s sisters had gone to school with Clyde’s wife. 

1LT Clyde Fillmore

3.9d . Navy brothers separated: Given how the various units were assembled on a geographical basis, it is not surprising that there were so many family pairs in the TXNG. Somewhat more surprising are how brothers managed to stay together and be assigned to the same ships in the Navy. Of course, this was a policy of the Navy as a whole to allow relatives to request assignments together.

3.9e Related by marriage: It is almost impossible (too time-consuming) to document, but it seems that many of these small town Texas boys were related by marriage as well. Wayne & Thurman Rhine were cousins and Alf Brown seemingly married one of their sisters.

3.9f Brothers on USS HOUSTON

Simply scanning the crew roster names there appears to be many possible candidates for brothers serving on the ship. To date, I have been unable to verify that any pair became POWs. That likely means that at least one brother may have perished while the other lived. In some cases, brothers likely went down with the ship.

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