Question of the Week: Who are the military heroes in your branch of the tree?

+22 votes

In honor of Memorial Day, let's talk about our ancestors who died in military service -- famous or not.

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (254k points)
edited by Julie Ricketts
Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave their lives for their country.  

The only family member that I know was my Gr-Gr-Grandfather who died fighting for the Confederacy---and BTW was acknowledged as an American by an Act of Congress.

Captain Robert Sevier (1749-1780) who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Kings Mountain, during the American Revolutionary War. He left behind a wife and two very young sons, the youngest yet a babe in arms.

My Nan was evacuated to the country in WW2 to a farm in Wales with her sister. They were treated very badly and had to steal the rabbit food to survive.

I am a little late posting this , One of my father's brother's Clarence James Isleman enlisted in the Canadian Forces even thou he was a US citizen during WWll before the US was involved 


I was told he was involved in the Battle of Dunkirk 

Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947

Name Clarence James Isleman Birth Date 21 Mar 1917 Birth Place Toronto, Ontario, Canada Residence Place Toronto, Ontario, Canada Death Date 24 Mar 1944 Service Number A22131 Force Army Regiment Essex Scottish Regiment, R.C.I.C. Rank Private

Find a grave  his actual birth place was Toronto, Ohio

Among many others in my ancestry who served and are hero's my 1st Cousin 2x removed Lt. Kenneth Walter Lindsay (1920-1944) stands out.

He flew with Leonard T. Duval, they crashed, were captured and Lt. Kenneth W. Lindsay died in battle.

Here is his story told by Lt. DuvaI:

None of direct ancestors gave their life for the USA that I know of. My 5 great grandfather John Stewart Sr is said to have been wounded at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 and afterward renamed his son from James to Scoby in honor of the the help he received from another soldier named Scoby.

A direct ancestor Timothy Willetts, a Quaker, was shot by Colonial militia on suspicion of harboring a Tory fugitive in 1777 in NJ. Reading the account of it told by his descendants it's clear that they were deeply embarrassed that Timothy was a Tory sympathizer.
My ggggrandfather, Alexander S. Jones, fought for the Union in the 2nd NC Infantry. He was captured and died in Andersonville Prison on July 4, 1864.

He was not quite 57 years old.

(from NY State)  Civil War:  Daniel Tuthill, Artillery Officer (his two sons Edward and Clarence survived with disabilities).  WW1:  Otto Sees (Russian POW).  WW2:  Walter Sees - awarded metal of honor.  

Right off the top of my head would be, Lt. William Daniel Walker Sr. and his father Col. John Rutherford Walker, the both served in the American Revolutionary War at Kings Mountain where the family's property was at. My father Dawson Joseph Walker served in the Korean War and I believe my Great Uncle Harol Prescott Walker served in World War II.

I'm fortunate, in that, although my father didn't serve, I have a long linage of service in my family. From the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War (on both sides) and all the way down to present times. I have four uncles who served as well. I, myself,  retired from the Army, and my son served in the Air Force.

44 Answers

+3 votes
My mother's brother, Sargeant William Joseph Perkett, was stationed in Africa and was a tail gunner on a Flying Fortress. His plane was shot down over Austria on November 2, 1943. He was 19 years old.
answered by
+4 votes
My great-grandfather, Robert Wood Battin, had three brothers who served in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Corporal Jacob Battin, Killed in Action April 6, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh,  Pvt. John Battin, who died of measles near Nashville, TN, and Pvt. William H Battin, who survived Civil War battles, but was Killed in Action by Chief Crazy Horse's warriors January 3, 1877 near the Tongue River in Montana.
answered by Don Castella G2G3 (3.4k points)
+4 votes
My grandfather, Clyde Everett Nichols-6149 served in WWI and buried alive 3 times, survived the war but came home shell shocked and many health problems, he died at age 43.

His son, my father, Benjamin Charles Nichols-6148 served in WWII overseas for 3 years, coming home alive - living until he was 90.
answered by Charlotte Vardy G2G Crew (660 points)
+3 votes
Five members of my family tree received their country's highest honor:

Colonel Harvey C. Barnum, Jr., US Marine Corps, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.
General Henry Alanson Barnum, Union Army, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
Boatswain's Mate James Barnum, Union Navy, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
Captain Andrew Davidson, Union Army, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
General George Lewis Gillespie, Union Army, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
answered by Patrick Barnum G2G6 Mach 4 (46.5k points)
+4 votes
My father, John Paulkovich, winner of the Bronze Medal.
answered by Suzanne Hye G2G Crew (780 points)
+4 votes
My father, Wilbur Thomas Harris was in C company in artillery. He hit Normandy Beach D-Day plus 6 and was there for the duration. He helped liberate Auschwitz and took one photo so no one would ever be able to say it didn't happen
 He received a bronze star and never told me why as he rarely talked about the war other than lighter hearted stories. He was in the Battle of the Bulge.  This is my adoptive father and not in the tree I've got going. I will add when I learn how to do so.
answered by Holly Mais G2G Crew (740 points)
+4 votes
In 1777, my fifth great grandfather, Sylvanus Ames, joined the Revolutionary War by serving as a chaplain, or so the story goes.

However there's a mystery here. Sylvanus Ames (1742-1778) graduated Harvard in 1767 with a Bachelor's degree. As was tradition, if one became a minister as Sylvanus did, he also received at the end of the third year in the ministry, his Master's.

After that initial service, the recipient of those degrees could stay in the ministry or go into some other field. Sylvanus Ames, decided to stay in the ministry and was the Rector Emeritus of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Taunton, Massachusetts. (Unfortunately, I can find no record of the church building at the present time.) He served from 1767 until he joined the Army of the Revolution.

Sylvanus's has been noted as a "chaplain." But that role has been questioned, so I kept looking for answers.

Sylvanus Ames was from a very prestigious family. The Ames were all over the place in Massachusetts, and Ames' family members, as well as their wives' male family members, were almost all officers in the military services. They were part of the "Bridgewater Ames"--the Ames family to which everyone wants to belong. Familiar names such as Watson, Hayward, Packard, Cheney, Lee, Johnson, Willis, Herrick and so on were part of his heritage. All were very much involved both militarily as well as philosophically in seeking freedom of religion and a break with England.

In 1777 in the late winter, Sylvanus is with George Washington and all the other patriots of that time at Valley Forge. He is not, however, where I expected him to be with the regiments of Massachusetts and serving as a staff officer.  He is instead with the Rhode Island Regiment serving as a private and then a corporal. Chaplains were never anything but officers.

Since Sylvanus Ames was born in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, went to Harvard in Boston, was a rector at the church in Taunton.  Nothing of record places him in Rhode Island. His family members all lived in Massachusetts. He had a wife and four children at home in Taunton.  His father-in-law, Isaac Johnson, Sr. was a major in a Massachusetts Regiment.

And yet, at the overwintering stronghold of General George Washington and his troops, there he is living in the crudely built cabins of Valley Forge with little or no clothing, no shoes, no blankets, and no food-- as an enlisted private then corporal, and subject to, and eventually getting a disease, probably the flu or typhoid fever, and dying from it just before the Continental troops left to engage the British at the end of spring in 1778.

My husband and I visited Valley Forge a few years ago, and I had mistakenly looked for him with the Massachusetts soldiers. He was, instead, with those from Rhode Island.

It appears that he did not play a religious role in the way that I imagined.

In any event, I was looking for information about that winter at Valley Forge, and found two books,  Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment of the Continental Army (December 19,1777 - June 19, 1778 collected by Joseph Lee Boyle as well as his newest endeavor, Death Seemed to Stare. The "writings" are mostly letters written by the officers at the Valley Forge encampment. These books are considered "primary" sources.

If one visits the Valley Forge site, the portrayal of the winter is not nearly as severe as it actually appears to have been. Stories about the cooks preparing bread in the afternoons as the troops returned home as a welcoming gesture cannot be true. This encampment hardly had enough food (flour, meat, etc.) to keep these men alive for most of the winter much less be used as an aromatic scent to welcome home the troops! And mostly they were inside those cabins trying to keep warm until the Spring when they could once again engage with the British who were sleeping warmly at night in nearby Philadelphia and taking comfort from those who still supported the British.

Regiments were particularly beholden to their own states for providing these necessities, and Rhode Island seems to have been terribly remiss in taking care of their soldiers! That's another question that I had, and for which there is a sad answer.

In reading the letters, mostly written by officers from the various states, there are several allusions in those letters to family members at home, to General Washington, or to the Quartermasters who should have been sending food to the troops, and to the fact that the Rhode Island regiment was in great need of clothing, blankets and food, and  they didn't have those things.

Sylvanus' death date is May 15, 1778 just days before all the troops moved out to face the British. His death is noted on that date because he didn't show up for roll call that morning--a sort of unceremonious end for one who had accomplished so much in the prior years of his life. He is buried in a mass grave containing other such souls nearby to the encampment at Valley Forge. It is said that Washington had soldiers who were ill, removed to a hospital so that their illnesses would not spread and so that they would not cause the others to be depressed. I think that did not happen to Sylvanus. It would not have been noted that he "did not show up for roll call" if he had been moved to a hospital.

By all that's true for the times described here, Sylvanus should have been one of the officers, (whose living conditions were much better than those of a private), but instead, he suffered with all the others, and not among friends, and receiving no special favors. At the very least, he should have been serving as a chaplain in the cabin where he resided.

As a descendant of this young man (he was only 34 that year), I have to wonder at his predicament. At first I thought there was no way to know why he did what he did. I had guessed, based upon what I knew of him, that he served in that capacity because his religion spoke to him and caused him to help where he thought he was needed. After reading the two books mentioned above, it appears that my guesses about Sylvanus Ames were on the right track. The two books mentioned above reveal the fact that the First Rhode Island Regiment was composed of “blacks and Indians and a few whites.”

The underlying truth is that Rhode Island passed a law in the late 1770’s  that created the First Rhode Island Regiment as a mostly Black regiment.  The motivation would have been that while the Continental Congress demanded that States send troops, they didn’t say who had to serve, and so giving freedom to those who did not have it (Blacks and Indians) in exchange for military service seemed to appeal to the Rhode Island legislators!  It also provided a way for Rhode Island Whites to skip such service.

These facts also explain Rhode Island’s reticence in sending food, clothing, blankets and other supplies for their troops at Valley Forge which directly resulted in their extraordinary levels of disease which killed a great many of them.

Sylvanus Ames was simply making a statement about slavery and its consequences when he decided to pitch his fate with those of the “freed” Blacks and Indians in those cold cabins of Valley Forge.

When he "didn't show up for roll call" on May 15, 1778, he left a wife and four young children to survive him.

Mary Knight McGarr
Fifth great grand-daughter of Sylvanus Ames
May 31, 2017
answered by

What a very interesting story and background information on your "fifth great grandfather, Sylvanus Ames". Thanks for sharing!!

+3 votes
My 7G-grandfather Isaac Wellman (Wellman-149) fought in King Philip's War.  He survived the great swamp fight as a soldier in Captain Joseph Gardner's Company at the capture of Fort Narraganset on 19 December 1675.  Although seldom remembered today, ten percent of colonial militiamen died in King Philip's war, making it the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population.  It was even more devastating to the Native Americans.  Some of my other grandparents were less fortunate than Isaac; and many of us with colonial New England ancestry lost ancestors in that conflict.  May future generations recognize the heroism of those encouraging diplomacy as an alternative to military action.
answered by AL Wellman G2G6 (7.9k points)
edited by AL Wellman
+5 votes
My husband and son in the Marine Corps. Both served in combat, both came home with all 10 fingers and toes, but the Ptsd has changed their lives. They are my heroes for the commitment to the Corps for 4 and 8 years. I love to walk with them because it puts me in an aura that's so awesome.
answered by Carol Saldivar G2G Crew (710 points)
+5 votes

My father, Kenneth C. Dressler was a veteran of three wars (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam). During World War II, he flew CG4A gliders and C-47 aircraft. He participated in six combat missions (piloting gliders), including Normandy (D-Day), Invasion of Southern France (Operation Dragoon, Rugby Force), Invasion of Holland (Operation Market Garden), Bastogne, Belgium (Battle of the Bulge), and the Rhine Crossing (Operation Varsity) at Wessel.  One of his missions during the Battle of the Bulge was to deliver a team of medical personnel into Bastogne by glider drop.  He also flew re-supply missions and delivered medical personnel (in both C-47 aircraft and gliders) from England and France to Germany after the Rhine Crossing. During the Korean War he was an air traffic controller in Okinawa and Korea. During the Vietnam War he was the Chief of Maintenance for a group that installed and serviced portable air traffic control units and long-range microwave communication units. He retired from the U.S. Air Force after 30 years with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

answered by Terence Dressler G2G Crew (470 points)
+5 votes
My dad Seaman James Wedeward: World War Two, my great grandfarher Arnold Rader (Co. C , 46rh Illinois Vols) Civil War, my great granduncle John Wedeward (Co A, 42nd Illinois Vols) Civil War, my 6th great grandfather, Brigadier General John Fellows : 21st Contintental Regt Revolutionary War & (French & Indian War - Rodger's  Rangers) my 6th great grand uncle Col. & Major General John Ashley, Jr (21st Continental Regt)  & Mass Malitia, Revolutionary War and my 7th great grandfather: Col John Ashley French & Indian War (Rodger's Rangers) and Sheffield Decloration in 1773 agaist British Tyranny. And FINNALLY All the GUYS I fought with in the 1st Cav in Vietnam!!!!!!!!!!!!
answered by John Wedeward G2G Crew (930 points)
edited by John Wedeward
+5 votes

Just discovered this one -- Capt. Samuel Brocklebank of the Rowley Militia. He died when leading his militia brigade to the relief of Sudbury, Massachusetts during King Phillip's War (i.e., Metacomet, chief Sachem of the Wampanoag confederacy). Brocklebank's contingent fell in with a larger contingent led by Captain Wadsworth and were drawn into a trap by a group of Indians pretending to flee. A large band of Native Americans surrounded them and annihilated them, leaving them to be buried in a mass grave marked by a granite obelisk today.

answered by Allen McGrew G2G2 (2.7k points)
+4 votes
Floyd D Tripp, WW1, Army
Paul W. Leiendecker, WW2, Army
Benjamin B. Leiendecker, WW2,  Army
James Jones, Civil War, Union
Capt Timothy Lockwood, Revolution War
James Newcomb, Revolution War
answered by Esther Tripp G2G Crew (320 points)
+4 votes
Gottlieb Schwarzwalder (aka: Caleb Blackwelder) & his wife, Elizabeth "Betsey" Phifer. Caleb & his son in law were held captive in the revolutionary war & Betsey came to their rescue. But, to me, everyone that served in the military are heroes: in my family there's my great uncles LJ, Gene, & Bill Blackwelder, John Bolick, my cousin Bill Verble, Marshall Anderson, Leonard Anderson, Michael O'Connor, & probably some more, my grandfather Clayton Bolick, my great grandfathers Harrison Bolick, Liston Whitley, great great grandfathers Davis Martinez, Martin Anderson, my great grandmother's 2nd husband James Johnson, ancestors Matthew Stewart, Josiah McCall, William McCall, Abraham Bolick, Wiley Blackwelder, & many more. I think 2 or 3 might have died in a war though. Martin Anderson I know for sure; his arm was amputated & he died from gangrene.
answered by Clayton Martinez G2G2 (2.3k points)
+3 votes
My ancestor Samuel Talbott died on December 31, 1777 at Valley Forge Virginia.  I have ancestors who have fought in the Civil War on both sides, and my father was in WWII in the Pacific but all survived until the war was over.
answered by Susan Talbot G2G Crew (880 points)
+4 votes

Both my grandfathers survived WW I- one was gassed at Ypres but survived, and the other was discharged as "unfit" due to flat feet and astigmatism.  But a large number of cousins (of various degrees) were killed in W W I

George Leslie Butcher (1899 - 1918) France  ( )

Edward Sidney Henry Sharp (1898 - 1917) Ypres, Belgium ( )

Ernest Alfred Sharp (1898 - 1918) Pas de Calais, France ( )

Harry Wicks (1896 - 1917) France ( )

Arthur Albert Linkins (1896 - 1918) France and Flanders ( )

Albert Twitchett (1896 - 1918) France and Flanders ( )

Montague Baker (1896 - 1916) France ( )

Harold Percy James (Dray) Cullum (1896 - 1917) Belgium (

Archibald Stoakes (1895 - 1917) Mesopotamia ( )

Leslie James Lacy (1895 - 1917) Flanders and France ( )

Harold John Pettitt (1895 - 1918) Kent, England ( )

Ralph Bourne (1894 - 1917) Nieuport-les-Bains, Belgium ( )

William Arthur Grant (1895 - 1915) Gallipoli, Turkey ( )

George William Leonard Ware (1894 - 1918) Flanders and France ( )

Ernest George Leggett (1894 - 1915) Ypres, Belgium ( )

John James Crout (1894 - 1918) Woolwich, London, England ( )

William Stephen Leggett (1893 - 1915) Ypres, Belgium ( )

Earnest Clover (1893 - 1918) London, England ( )

Thomas Walton Grant (1892 - 1917) Ypres, Belgium ( )

George William Crout (1889 - 1916) Baghdad, Iraq ( )

Ivan Frederick Isaac Ashdown (1888 - 1916) Salonika ( )

Albert John Dray (1888 - 1915) Ypres, Belgium ( )

Jeremiah Down-Deasey (1887 - 1917) France or Flanders ( )

George Frederick Welland (1886 - 1918) Wimille, France ( )

George Sidney Burch (1885 - 1917) Belgium ( )

Charles Albert Lacy (1885 - 1917) France and Flanders ( )

Henry George Thornby (1884 - 1918) Edmonton, Middlesex, England ( )

Henry Edward Marsh (1883 - 1918) France and Flanders ( )

Henry Gilham (1884 - 1914) at sea- HMS Hawke ( )

Frederick Thomas Down (1882 - 1915) Near Mazingarbe, France ( )

Frederic Thomas Kemp (1877 - 1917) France and Flanders ( )


Further back, a first cousin n times removed, Christopher Battiscombe, was one of the leaders (for the Bridport, Dorset, area) of Monmouth's Rebellion.  He was captured  when the rebellion failed.  "Hanging Judge" Jeffreys offered to commute his sentence if he would name his co-conspirators, but he refused, and was hanged.

answered by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 5 (58k points)

Your right, what a LARGE number of cousins killed in WWI. Memorial Day must really have some special meanings for you. Thank you for sharing and honoring your cousins today!! 

+4 votes
My great great grandfather, Peter Jamieson died in an advance on the small Redan at the battle of Sebastopol in the Crimean War. The advance was a failure, and bodies were never recovered, so he was listed as 'died or did not return'. I think that is quite sad. He had advanced up the ranks to sergeant and had won several medals. No one has known what happened to him and it has taken extensive searching to 'bring him home'. It was only his baby daughter's childhood memories of playing in the environs of Edinburgh Castle which enabled us to find his regiment to begin the search. Never ignore the tiniest scrap of oral history which comes your way. RIP Peter.
answered by Mary Moffitt G2G Crew (970 points)
+4 votes
Have several Revolutionary Patriots in my TREE  My great grandfather was a drummer boy for the Union in Civil War. Wondered why the men in my family liked to play drums. Must be in the DNA !
answered by Lois Weber G2G Crew (320 points)
+4 votes
I have a long list of ancestors who served. The one who stands out the most was Private William Slusser (Slusser-161) of Louisville, Ohio. He was killed at Vicksburg, leaving behind his new bride Eliza Ringer and my second great grandfather, Henry W Slusser, who was not quite 2 years old. We do have a copy of his Civil War diary, and I have a copy of a letter from Eliza which is rather heartbreaking to read. William's brother Christopher was also killed, ten days prior to his own death.
answered by Melanie Stewart G2G Crew (790 points)
+4 votes
All of them from the Revolution to WWII. In particular the famous personal scout of Robert E. Lee and Jeb Stuart. Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow of the 4th Virginia Cavalry.
answered by Tim Stringfellow G2G4 (4.1k points)

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