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The last of a military family
Oakwood man reflects on brothers service in Army, Air Force
Kenneth Eugene Anderson

OAKWOOD — Howard Turner Anderson flies the U.S. flag at his home and is otherwise patriotic, remembering his four brothers, who, like him, served in the military.

All are gone now, each one taken by diabetes, but their service in war and peacetime over a 27-year span isn’t lost on Anderson, 81, especially during such national observances as Memorial Day.

“It makes me feel proud,” he said.

Anderson, sitting at his kitchen table across from his wife, Paralee, in their Robinson Drive home, spent part of a recent evening reflecting on earlier days and the lives and careers of his brothers: William Curtis, Kenneth Eugene, Everette Byron and Bobby Ray.

He said each one’s march into military service may have been inspired by Curtis (as he was called) and himself, each drafted in 1951.

“We were a close family, really,” Anderson said. “We loved each other, that’s for sure.”

The five brothers and two sisters — Lovell Finley and Margie Moore, who are still living — grew up on a farm in North Hall. In 1949, the Andersons sold their farm and moved to Gainesville, where the father started working with the Hall County correctional system.

Anderson remembers the day he was drafted.

He and Curtis “went down for a physical, and they kept my brother but sent me back home because I was married,” Anderson said. “About three weeks later, they called me (back).”

Howard ended up in Korea and his brother was shipped to the Panama Canal, with both ending their service in 1953.

Anderson struggled to fight back tears as he recalled his time in service, which included stiff combat.

“You don’t want to hear about it,” he said. “It won’t ever leave you. You take it to your grave.”

After the brothers were discharged, Curtis went to Chicago, where he lived for a few years. Howard followed, staying for a few years before returning to Hall County, working as a welder for 19 years.

“I traveled all those years, building poultry plants and remodeling the old ones,” said Anderson, who has lived on Robinson Drive since 1964. “I stayed busy.”

“You sure did,” Paralee chimed in.

As for his other brothers, the next in line was Kenneth, who expected to be drafted.

“He volunteered and went into the Air Force (in 1952),” Anderson said. “He spent four years in England, and he was a cook.”

Everette also volunteered, joining the Army in 1951.

“Somebody signed for him,” Anderson said, chuckling. “I don’t think he ever told anybody how he got in (the Army).”

Everette ended up serving until 1978, with time spent in Korea, Vietnam, Panama Canal and Italy. After the service, he joined the Gainesville Police Department, working for 13 years.

Bobby Ray served in the Army from 1957 to 1967, spending one tour in Vietnam, as well as time in Germany and Holland. He served in the Army Reserve until 1987.

“He owned a real estate business company for some time,” Anderson said.

Curtis and Everette died in 1998. Kenneth died in 1992, and Bobby, April 2011.

Kenneth also suffers from diabetes and has had back and heart surgeries and hip replacement.

“I’ve been cut on a bunch, but I’m doing great,” he said. “I feel good sometimes, but I’m not as good as I once was. Being crazy and goofy like I am helps a lot.”

Reflecting on his own military experience, Anderson reckons that life would have been much different had he not married.

“There is something about the military ... I probably would (have) stayed, might have been killed a long time ago,” he said. “But being married, you got something back home that you want to get back to.”

He and Paralee had five children, including a son who died in 1992. They also have eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Their youngest daughter, Tara Poole, 46, said she remembered going to her grandmother’s house as a young girl and seeing the pictures of all the brothers in uniform.

“All of us grandkids used to sit and just look at (the display), and it was just a neat thing,” she said. “It just makes you feel good to see all that they did.

“I can just close my eyes and see those pictures on that wall.”

She also remembers the brothers swapping stories when they got together.

“I’m proud of my daddy because I wouldn’t have the privileges I have today if it weren’t for him,” Poole said.