dee_burris: (Default)
2014-05-23 05:06 pm

Remembering them on Memorial Day...

There is no intention of a slight to the members of my family whose stories do not appear here.

I have chosen to feature for this Memorial Day three members of my family - one a direct ancestor and the other two my cousins - who died far from home and family.
The first is probably the most poignant for me, for the location of my g-g-g grandfather's grave was unknown to any of his family for nearly a century and a half.

Nathaniel C Callaway (1819-1862) went off to fight for the Confederate States of America on 6 Mar 1862. He enlisted in his home town of Arkadelphia, in Clark County, AR. His youngest child had just celebrated his fourth birthday. Nathaniel and his wife, Julia Ann, had just buried their second child nine months earlier.

And he just never came back. Nathaniel died of typhoid fever on 7 May 1862 at Southern Mothers' Hospital in Memphis - an overburdened facility staffed by nurses who really were Southern mothers.

None of the descendants at the annual family reunion knew when or where he died or was buried. No one’s parents knew what happened to him.

It took me two years of looking off and on until I finally mis-spelled his surname badly enough for a Google search engine to give me some valid results.

And I finally found him at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, TN. Not only that, but one of his cousins. They were buried in the section called Confederate Soldiers Rest.

So I rounded up a Callaway cousin and we came to see.

We discovered that Nathaniel C and Levi A Callaway’s graves were not formally marked, but had the numbered concrete markers installed on all the Confederate graves in 1886. So we ordered their military markers from the VA.

And waited. The gravestones were delivered to my workplace and carefully loaded by the truck driver into the back of my SUV. Joe and I could have had them delivered to Elmwood, but after 149 years, we just couldn't stand the thought that something might happen to them.

Joe and I were finally able to travel to Elmwood on 19 Feb 2011 to watch the stones being set on the graves.


Todd Fox, the cemetery superintendent, set the stones for us. It may sound hokey, but when Mr. Fox was preparing Nathaniel and Levi Callaway's gravesites to install their stones, and told me I could have the tops of the numbered concrete columns he took out to lay the markers...


I jumped on it. Nathaniel's was 102, Levi's 140.

So family, those weathered pieces of concrete at the bottom of the steps in the east garden?

They are priceless.

Woodrow L. Rainey, S. 1/c.
Woodrow L Rainey, S. 1/c., 28, was killed in action in the South Pacific, the Navy Department has advised his wife, Mrs. Myrtle Nolen Rainey. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Rainey of the Griffin Flat community.

Woodrow's parents were Edgar Clarence Rainey and Millie Mae Burris, making him my 4th cousin.

Woodrow died aboard the USS Kimberly, a Fletcher-class destroyer, in World War II. Departing San Pedro Bay on 21 March 1945 for radar picket duty, the destroyer, off the Ryūkyūs, was attacked 26 March by two Aichi D3A "Vals," dive bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Despite accurate antiaircraft fire and numerous hits, one enemy plane, trailing fire and smoke, crashed into the aft gun mounts, killing 4 men and wounding 57.

His parents placed this stone in Appleton Cemetery in Pope County, AR in memory of him, although they were unable to bury his remains. Woodrow was buried at sea.
Woodrow Lyle Rainey, 1916-26 Mar 1945
Seaman, 1st Class USN

I knew there was a memorial wall - the memorial to veterans who died in World War II during the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

I looked for Woodrow's name, and found it.


(You can search for names of your family members on "The Wall" by clicking this link, but you will have to be a member of to see the images from the free index.)
John Elbert Burris was the son of Thomas Frank Burris and Winifred Brashear. He was only 20 years old when he was declared missing and presumed dead by the United States Navy on 1 Dec 1943. He was later classified as killed in action.

John was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.

He is memorialized on The Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. The names of those whose remains were recovered and identified afterwards are punctuated with rosettes.
 photo PhilippinesTabletsofMissing.jpg

 photo PhilippinesTabletsofMissing2.jpg

I do not know if John's remains were ever recovered. He was my third cousin, once removed.
I created memorials for each of my relatives at Find a Grave. You can leave virtual flowers on those memorials by clicking the links below:
Private Nathaniel C Callaway, CSA
Seaman First Class Woodrow Lyle Rainey
Seaman Second Class John Elbert Burris
dee_burris: (Default)
2012-10-27 09:23 pm

Highly recommended for all family historians...

Ken Burns' The War.

Six DVDs, nearly fifteen hours of material.

Four American towns, and how their citizens were affected by the war.

I learned about World War II in high school history, but not like this.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-12-03 07:45 am

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu HI sent me an update email announcing the addition of thousands of photos of "The Wall," the memorial to veterans who died in World War II during the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

I had to look for my fourth cousin, Woodrow Lyle Rainey, son of Edgar Clarence Rainey and Millie Mae Burris.

And he was there.


You can search for names of your family members on "The Wall" by clicking this link, but you will have to be a member to see the images from the free index.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-01-09 05:11 pm

Paul Pettit: 1914-1964

My folks bought a display case for all of Paul's awards, including his Bronze Star Medal.


We're going to do a little article to send in to the newspaper.

I just love it when things work out the way they should.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-26 08:11 pm

Military Monday: Dancing by the mailbox...

With anticipation that's hard to conceal, I imagine.

My parents.

Okay, they won't be dancing. But they'll still be waiting.

For Paul Pettit's bronze star.

And all his other awards.

We got the news by phone on December 20 last week from Senator Mark Pryor's office. We started off with Congressman Vic Snyder's office, but his liaison to Veteran's Affairs didn't want the request or supporting paperwork to get lost in the shuffle of the incoming freshman Congressman that won Vic's seat.

From the day we started with the inquiry until Sen Pryor's office called last Monday was 2 months and 4 days. Not bad for a federal bureaucracy that seems as if it can't find it with both hands lately.

Of course, it is nearly 47 years after he died, but I doubt Paul knew he was eligible for the medal.

I think that it would be fair to say that this was an educational experience for all concerned...

Will post photos when they are available. I understand the Army does these things up right.
dee_burris: (flag)
2010-11-16 06:14 pm

In search of the Bronze Star...

I'm on a quest, one begun as a result of my entry on Veteran's Day.

My dad called me up and asked me why I stated in that entry that Paul Pettit, my step-mom's dad, had been awarded a Bronze Star.

I said it was because his military gravstone said he did.


Paul Pettit was inducted into the Army on 23 Mar 1944 at Camp Robinson, in what is now North Little Rock, AR. By 25 Sep 1944, he was overseas in the European Theater as part of what was known as the Rhineland Campaign.

On 17 Nov 1944, his vmail letter was dispatched by the War and Navy Department to his wife, Audria, in Atkins, Pope Co., AR.


Audria got Paul's vmail on 19 Nov 1944. No one knew at the time the significance of that date.

Regret to inform you...

It had to be a horrible telegram to get. It arrived on 3 Dec 1944, sent to a 24 year old wife and 4 year old daughter.

For anyone receiving a telegram during World War knew before you tore the envelope open, didn't you?


Regret to inform you your husband was seriously wounded in action in France nineteen November until new address is received address mail for him quote private Paul Pettit serial number (hospitalized) central postal directory apo 640 care postmaster New York New York unquote you will be advised as reports of condition are received Witsell acting the Adjutant General

Audria had no way of knowing that on the day she got his vmail, Paul had been ambushed by a sniper as he jumped off the truck when his unit entered a small town in France. He was shot, multiple times, in the abdomen, resulting in surgery that was unable to repair his colon. From the field hospital, he was sent to another hospital, and spent a total of 225 days hospitalized before he was sent stateside, not to come home, but to guard prisoners of war in the United States.

During his hospitalization, the Army sent information about his condition.



His duty assignment took him to the Panama Canal Zone, where on board the ship, doctors had to treat an outbreak of gonorrhea. Finally, the doctor who examined Paul said, "You're going home."

Paul Pettit was honorably discharged from the United States Army on 8 Mar 1946 in New Hamilton, NY. He was awarded a 100% disability rating, as well as a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge, World War II Victory Ribbon, EAME Theater Ribbon, and American Theater Ribbon.

He never said anything about a Bronze Star, and my step-mom does not have it with his other awards. He probably never knew he had gotten it.

President Roosevelt authorized the Bronze Star Medal by Executive Order 9419 dated 4 February 1944, retroactive to 7 December 1941. This authorization was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 3, dated 10 February 1944. The Executive Order was amended by President Kennedy, per Executive Order 11046 dated 24 August 1962, to expand the authorization to include those serving with friendly forces.

As a result of a study conducted in 1947, the policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge or the Combat Medical Badge during World War II. The basis for doing this was that the badges were awarded only to soldiers who had borne the hardships which resulted in General Marshall’s support of the Bronze Star Medal. Both badges required a recommendation by the commander and a citation in orders.

My favorite Congressman, Vic Snyder, has a hell-on-wheels staff member who handles constituent concerns related to US veterans. Devon Cockrell, a veteran and active duty member of the US Army, has assured me that there is no question that Paul Pettit's daughter will get her daddy's Bronze Star Medal. He's going to start the process for us.

And he says the Army does them up right...