Nine of twelve Bries brothers serve in the military

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Each of the Bries brothers have received a Quilt of Valor in honor of their military service to our country. Seated from left are Leroy, Elmer and Roger Bries; standing from left are brother-in-law David Oberbrockling, Arnold W. Jr., Virgil, Harold "Harry" and Gerald "Gerry" Bries. Not pictured are Kenneth and Virgil Bries. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

"Bustling" would be a good word to describe the home of the late Arnold and Regina Bries. The hard-working couple raised 16 children, four girls and 12 boys, on a farmstead in rural Clayton County. Nine of the 12 boys went on to serve in the military. 

Virgil Bries, the couple's son, told The Press, "We didn't have much choice. The draft was going on at the time. When you turned 18 you signed up." 

Carol Hartmann, daughter of Arnold and Regina, shared her memories of growing up in a family of 16 children, "Our parents were married on Oct. 22 in 1929, at the start of the Depression. Living on a farm with dairy cattle, pigs, chickens and our own garden enabled us to live well during the financially challenging times." She continued, "Mom sewed all our clothes, and we only purchased shoes once a year when school started. We went barefoot in the summer. She made quilts out of old suits and bedding from flour sacks."

Virgil shared his memories of his highly-disciplined mother. "My mother was up early and headed out to the barn to hand milk the cows. When we turned three years old we had to start cooking our own breakfast," he said. 

At 9 a.m. Regina would head upstairs and begin making the beds, mopping the floors and tidying up. "The upstairs looked like a hotel every day!" Virgil exclaimed. 

Regina would return to her kitchen at 10 a.m. sharp to polish and clean the kitchen and start dinner. 

A large family required a substantial garden. "There was never a weed in my mother's garden. She had to haul water from the creek to water it. When we dug potatoes she always said, 'When you get done, your father will take you to the  movies.' We never did make it to  a picture show,"  he shared with a hearty laugh. 

Virgil proudly said, "Every Sunday morning mom routinely made 12 to 14 pies on the wood cook stove. The last pie went in the oven before she went to 7:30 a.m. Mass." 

Hartmann told The Press, "We had chores we were assigned to do. My mother ran a tight ship. We always had a lot of fun. In the summer we played baseball – as we had enough for a team – and then some!" 

The Bries family utilized the land to sustain the large family. Hartmann said, "Hunting was both a sport – which the brothers loved — and food for the table." 

The Bries brothers have carried on the family's hunting tradition and continue to hunt deer, bear, elk and mountain sheep. 

The structured childhood made  an easy transition for the Bries brothers as they entered into the military. Their service records  follow: 

LeRoy P. Bries served in the Army with Company A, 92 Armored Infantry Battalion. He received his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo. He served 18 months in New Orleans, La., before serving overseas in France. He served from  1953-1955. 

Roger W. Bries served in the Army with Company K, 6th Infantry Regiment. He received his basic training at Fort Chaffee, Ark. He served 10 weeks at Fort Hood, Texas, before serving overseas in  Germany. He served from 1956-1958.

The late James C. Bries served in the Army Reserves. He received his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and served four months at Fort Ord, Calif. He served from May-November in 1959.

Virgil Bries served in the Army Reserves. He received his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and served at Fort Ord, Calif. During his second tour of duty he served at Fort Lewis, Wash., during the Cuban Crisis. He served from 1959-1961

Kenneth J. Bries joined the Army with the 388th Engineers Corps. He was a Private E-2. He received his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., then was stationed at Fort Ord, Calif., and went on to serve in the reserves at Camp Rippey, Minn. He served in active duty from May 1959 to November 1959.

Elmer Bries served as a cook in the Army Reserves. He received his basic training at Fort Leonard-wood, Mo. He obtained the rank of E-4 with the 1st Battle Group in the 410th Infantry. He served from 1960-1964.

Harold and Gerald Bries, twins, served together as medics, achieving the rank of Sergeant in the Army National Guard. They were stationed at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  They served from 1965-1971.

Arnold W. Bries, Jr. served with the Army Reserves with the 389th Engineer Division, Heavy Equipment. He earned the rank of Specialist E-4. He received his basic training at Leonardwood, Mo. He served from 1967-1973. 

In addition to the nine Bries brothers' service to our country, three of the Bries daughters married men who served. 

The late Carl Feldmann was as a Corporal in the Army serving in the Korean War. He served from 1952 - 1954.

The late Donald Wille served in the Army in Huldburg, Germany. He served from 1953 - 1954. 

David E Oberbrockling served in the Army Reserves. He received his basic training at Fort Leonardwood, Mo., and he went on to serve at Fort Dix, N.J. He earned the rank of Specialist 4 (E-4). He was discharged in 1964.

Each of the Bries brothers have received a Quilts of Valor handmade quilt in honor of their military service to our country.

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