VETERANS DAY

VETERANS DAY: Remembering 19 ‘Shealy boys’ who went to war

jwilkinson@thestate.comNovember 9, 2013 

  • The Shealy Boys A 1944 article in The State newspaper listed 19 men from tiny Little Mountain – all related – who were serving in World War II. Here is updated information about the Shealy Boys, who were brothers and cousins from the Newberry County town. The information was gathered from family, friends and public records. Some information may be incomplete.

    Warrant Officer Bernard Shealy

    Born: Feb. 10, 1918

    Died: November 1943

    Bernard was killed in action on Tarawa in the South Pacific. He had been in the U.S. Marine Corps since 1935 and had been fighting in the Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division for a year during the Guadalcanal campaign.

    Bernard was the son of Asa Henry and Olive Shealy. He was married to the former Anne Remmer of California and they had a son, Mike.

    He was the brother of two other WWII veterans from Little Mountain, John Henry and Paul Shealy.

    His name is one of four Shealys listed as killed in action on the World War II Memorial in Memorial Park in downtown Newberry.

    A marker honoring Bernard is at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery in Little Mountain.

    Chief Petty Officer John Henry Shealy

    Born: Dec. 3, 1914

    Died: July 19, 1982

    Brother of Bernard, John Henry joined the Coast Guard in 1935 and served in the South Pacific like his brother. John Henry was assigned to a tanker ship.

    He and his wife, the former June Hitzman, lived in St. Louis after the war. John Henry retired from the Coast Guard.

    John Henry is buried in a military cemetery in St. Louis.

    Seaman 2nd Class Paul Shealy

    Born: March 12, 1927

    Younger brother of Bernard and John Henry, Paul joined the Navy in March 1944, and served aboard a landing ship.

    He would survive the war and served for 20 years in the Navy. He served as a deputy sheriff in Las Vegas and retired as a security guard for Resorts International.

    Paul and his wife, the former Margaret “Maggie” Morris of Miami, live in Hernando Beach, Fla.

    Petty Officer 1st Class Mendel Worth Shealy

    Born: Aug. 19, 1908

    Died: Dec. 15, 1945

    Worth joined the Navy in 1932 and was killed when his ship was sunk in the Java Sea on March 1, 1942, less than three months after Pearl Harbor. He was an electrician.

    Worth wasn’t declared dead until Dec. 15, 1945, after the war had ended.

    Worth was the son of George Holland and Mary Shealy of Little Mountain. His brother Maxie was in the Army.

    His name is one of four Shealys listed as killed in action on the World War II Memorial at the Newberry County Courthouse.

    A marker honoring Worth is at Holy Trinity.

    Sgt. First Class Maxie Shealy

    Born: June 6, 1912

    Died: June 1978

    He was the brother of Worth, Maxie joined the Army in August 1942, seven months after Pearl Harbor. He was in the infantry with the 78th Infantry Division and fought in France and Germany.

    Maxie would survive the war and go on to work at SCE&G.

    He married the former Margie McClintock of Fairfield County.

    He is buried in St. Andrews Lutheran Church Cemetery in Columbia

    Pfc. Fred Roscoe Shealy

    Born: 1915

    Died: 1981

    Fred joined the infantry in August 1942 and was shipped to the Aleutian Islands on April 1943.

    Fred survived the war and later worked for Little Mountain Construction. He married Edna Regina Livingston.

    He was the son of Roscoe Osborne and Katie Shealy of Little Mountain. His brother Mack served with the Army.

    He is buried in Newberry Memorial Gardens.

    Pfc. Luther Mack Shealy

    Born: 1921

    Died: 1984

    Fred’s brother, Mack, was a 1943 graduate of Newberry College. He entered the service in April 1943 and was at Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif.

    He married Iris Bradfield Morris.

    Mack would go on to become a physician. He passed away in Quitman, Ga.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

    David Sease Shealy

    Born: 1908

    Died: Feb. 27, 2002

    David Sease joined the Navy in 1942 and served in the south Pacific.

    After the war he worked at Exxon Mobile and retired with the company.

    He is the son of Rufus Benson and Rosabelle Sease Shealy of Little Mountain.

    He was married to the former Beatrice Bowers. He is the brother of another World War II veteran, Doyle Shealy.

    Seaman 2nd Class Doyle Eargle Shealy

    Born: Feb. 28, 1925

    Died: Oct. 14, 2003

    Brother of David Sease, Doyle joined the Navy in April 1944. He served in the south Pacific.

    He married Mollie Virginia Jarrett.

    After the war he worked for Exxon Mobile and retired from the company.

    Petty Officer Leon Magnus Shealy

    Born: 1921

    Died: Nov. 10, 2004

    Leon joined the Navy March 17, 1944, and tended the engine of a landing ship troop.

    He was the son of Lonnie Magnus Shealy and Mary Stoudemire of Little Mountain. He married the former Emma Frances Counts.

    Leon survived the war and later worked for SCE&G.

    His brother Robert was in the Army.

    Pvt. Robert Dwight Shealy

    Born: Aug. 14, 1923

    Died: July 6, 2003

    Brother of Leon, Robert joined the Army in late 1944 and was in the infantry.

    Derrick remembers Robert telling the story that he dropped his rifle in the Rhine River as his unit paddled across into German.

    “But there were plenty of other rifles on the other side” left by killed or wounded soldiers, Derrick said.

    Robert married Dolly Wanda Shealy.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

    Sgt. Andrew Fritz Shealy

    Born Nov. 12, 1916

    Died: July 6, 1994

    He entered the Army Air Corps in August 1942.

    He served as an aerial engineer, performing maintenance on bombers and transport planes. He had been employed by SCE&G at the Parr hydroelectric plant before the war. He got his old job back and worked at McMeekin power plant at Lake Murray dam for 41 years.

    He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Milton Shealy of Little Mountain. He married Elizabeth Griffith in 1940.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

    Lonnie Cornelius “Jack” Shealy, Jr.

    Born: Sept. 4, 1924

    Died: Jan. 3 2002

    Jack entered merchant marines in April 1943. He worked at the Savannah River Plant after the war.

    He was the son of Lonnie Cornelius “Pete” and Marie Koon Shealy.

    He married Johnsie Wedaman.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

    Cpl. Henry Earl Shealy

    Born: March 13, 1918

    Died: Dec. 8, 1991

    He entered the Army in 1941 and fought in France. After the war he became a mechanic in Spartanburg and later moved to North Carolina.

    He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Killian Shealy. He married Rachel Laird.

    Cpl. Charles Shealy

    Born: July 4, 1913

    Died: April 8, 1981

    He served in the Army two years before the war then rejoined in June 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor. He served at Luzon in the Philippines among other postings.

    He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Cleophas Shealy of Little Mountain. He married the former Pauline Slice of Chapin.

    After the war he worked for Little Mountain Construction.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

    Tech. Sgt. William Ray Shealy

    Born: April 7, 1923

    Died: Aug. 15, 1957

    Ray entered the Army in April 1943 and was a machinist in the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in France beginning in December 1943.

    After the war, he worked as a machinist for the Newberry Auto Supply company and became postmaster of Little Mountain.

    He was killed with two other men in 1957 when a drunk driver hit them as they changed a tire on Sumter Highway near Shaw Air Force Base. His wife, the former Dorothy Counts, 9-year-old son Troy and the rest of his family were in the car. They were returning to Little Mountain from the beach.

    He was the son of William David Shealy.

    Ray is buried at Mount Tabor Lutheran Church Cemetery in Little Mountain.

    2nd Lt. Otis Lester Shealy

    Born: Oct. 3, 1923

    Died: July 13, 2013

    Otis, a Newberry College graduate, entered the Army Oct. 16, 1942 and served as an instructor at the Army Air Corps technical school at Yale University. He later served as an intelligence officer with the 14th Air Corps “Flying Tigers.”

    After the war, he earned a doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina and went to work for DuPont managing the development of new fibers. He served for 20 years as a trustee of Newberry College.

    He was the son of Jacob L. and Lorane Fulmer of Little Mountain. He married Harriett Sanders of Chapel Hill, N.C.

    Otis is buried at Mount Tabor.

    Sgt. Luther Branders “Dick” Shealy

    Born: 1920

    Died: Nov. 17, 1994

    Branders entered the Army Air Corps in August 1942. He was a gunner on a P-61 Black Widow bomber.

    After the war he became a car salesman for Shealy Motor Company in Newberry.

    He was the son of Elmer Luther Shealy and the former Dora Branders. He married Frances Elizabeth Mitchell.

    Frank Wright Shealy

    Born: July 10, 1926

    Died: March 27, 1991

    Valedictorian of Little Mountain High School, Frank entered the Navy on July 19, 1944. He was stationed in Norfolk, Va.

    His father was a World War I veteran.

    Frank entered the Medical University of South Carolina after the war and became an anesthesiologist. He worked at Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood, founding its anesthesiology department and became its first medical director. He was married to Jeanne Todd Shealy.

    He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Omerle Shealy.

    He is buried at Holy Trinity.

— In December 1943, when World War II was raging around the globe, the family of Asa and Olive Shealy of Little Mountain got the bad news that their son, Bernard, had been killed in a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean called Tarawa.

His body was never recovered.

Worth, one of his cousins also from Little Mountain, had been missing since his ship was sunk by the Japanese in March 1942, in the Java Sea in the Pacific. His body, too, would never be recovered.

So Asa Shealy’s 20-year-old daughter, Eleanor, grief stricken, decided to let the world know about the Shealy brothers and cousins from the tiny town who were serving their country – all 19 of them.

“My brother was killed, and Worth was missing,” Eleanor Shealy Adeimy, now 90, said last week from her home in Laurinburg, N.C. “I thought somebody should do something for all those Shealy boys in the service.”

So she gathered their service pictures, wrote short bios for each and took them to The State newspaper, where her article was published on Dec. 17, 1944, under the headline: “19 Shealy Boys From Little Mountain In the Service.”

The story about the Shealy Boys resonated, not only because they all were brothers or cousins, but because the tiny hamlet had a population of about 150 people. And that didn’t take into account all the other boys from Little Mountain who had joined the service – all the Seases, Fricks, Mettses, Lindlers, Bolands and Eptings.

That meant that a very large percentage of the population of the little farming and railroad town north of Columbia was overseas fighting for their country.

“Old Dutch Forkers (as natives are called) have a history of obligation, of loyalty, of love for their country,” said Margaret Sease Jayroe, Little Mountain’s unofficial historian. “I don’t know about the new generation, but with the older folks their word was their bond. But even with that said, having so many Shealy boys, all of them related, who went off to war is unusual.”

‘Very large broods’

Shealy is far and away the most common name in Newberry County. It seems like every other person you meet is named Shealy or married a Shealy.

There is even the alternate spelling – Sheely.

“And they are kind of known for having very large broods,” said Ernest Shealy, the director of the Newberry County Museum.

It all started with the original settlers of the fertile farming region north of the confluence of the Saluda and Broad rivers. The area is called the Dutch Fork because those first settlers were German, or as they called themselves in their native language, Deutsch.

John Wendle Shealy, who was born in Wurttemburg, Germany, in 1746 and his wife, Anna Mary Epting, settled in the Little Mountain area with their parents in 1750 when the region was part of Berkeley County.

They got the Shealy ball rolling by having 13 children. Since then, large farming families have been the norm.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of Shealys in the county,” Ernest Shealy said. “But we’re all descended from them.”

The Shealy family history – a listing of all Shealy descendants – is in four volumes, each about two inches thick. Name after name after name.

It is tradition that the first five children in a family have one of the original Shealy names – such as John, Jacob, Henry, David, William, Catherine, Margaret or Mary. After that, the Shealeys get creative or give their offspring unique middle names, Ernest Shealy said.

“The problem is so many of us have the same name,” Ernest Shealy said.

For instance, one of his relatives gave their children middle names of the month they were born and other unique names.

“I’ve got an aunt Dorothy June and another aunt Ruby August,” Ernest Shealy said. “And I’ve got an uncle Pleasant and an uncle Happy.”

And the Shealys also have a history of patriotism and loyalty, which was hard to figure out in the old Ninety Six District, as the area was called, during the Revolutionary War.

“Many people in the Revolution served the English out of one door and the Patriots out of the other,” Jayroe said.

The monuments in Newberry’s Memorial Park list five Shealys from Newberry County killed in the Civil War, one in World War I and four in World War II. In addition to Bernard and Worth, the marker names James M. and Noah I. – a pair of Shealys from outside Little Mountain.

But having 19 Shealys from tiny Little Mountain was extraordinary, said Paul Shealy, the son of one of those 19. His father, Charles, served two years in the Army before the war then rejoined after Pearl Harbor and fought in the Philippines.

“It was their obligation,” he said. “Most of them volunteered.”

Missing on an atoll

Bernard Shealy also left the service, then rejoined the Marines when war broke out.

When he was killed on Tarawa, Bernard had been in the U.S. Marine Corps since 1935 and had been fighting in the Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division for a year during the Guadalcanal campaign.

At the time of his death, his wife, the former Anne Remmer of California, was pregnant with their son, Mike.

Bernard is believed to be buried or his body lost on or near the tiny, companion island of Tarawa, called Betio. More than 1,000 Marines died on Tarawa and Betio in the Gilbert Islands battle that was fought Nov. 20-23, 1943.

Tending to so many dead was difficult on an island as small as Betio. They were wrapped in ponchos and buried in shallow, sandy graves. Hundreds more had gone down in landing craft and were never recovered, floated out to sea or simply vanished.

Many more bodies were lost by the time grave registration teams arrived, as the small cemeteries that dotted the island were moved when U.S. bases there expanded.

Bernard, the brother of John Henry and Paul Shealy, was never found.

Paul Shealy, the only one of the 19 Shealy Boys still alive, said he joined the Navy to try to find his brother’s body.

“I enlisted when I was 17,” he said from his home in Hernando Beach, Fla. “I thought I could get close to where he died. I was in for 18 months during the war, but never hit Tarawa.”

‘Everybody had a cow’

Worth Shealy’s body also was never found. He joined the Navy in 1932 and was reported missing when his ship sank near the Philippines on March 1, 1942, less than three months after Pearl Harbor. He was an electrician.

His ship, the U.S.S. Pecos, an oil and gasoline refueling ship, was sunk in the battle of Java Sea in Southeast Asia. Fighter planes from the Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu attacked the ship and two other support vessels after they rescued survivors from the U.S.S. Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier made from a converted World War I war ship by adding a rudimentary flight deck.

Worth wasn’t declared dead until Dec. 15, 1945, after the war had ended.

But the rest of the Shealy Boys returned and took up their lives again where they left off with little fanfare.

“We gathered as individual families, but there was no parade or anything,” said Caroline Frick, 80, sister of Ray Shealy, one of the Shealy Boys. “It was just one of those things that you had to do for your country.”

Several of the Shealy Boys used the G.I. Bill, which paid for college for World II vets, to advance their education to become noted professionals.

Frank Wright Shealy, who died in 1991, entered the Medical University of South Carolina and worked at Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood where he founded its anesthesiology department and became its first medical director.

Otis Lester, who passed away in July, earned a doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina and went to work for DuPont managing the development of new fibers. He served for 20 years as a trustee of Newberry College.

Luther Mack became a physician. He passed away in Quitman, Ga. in 1984.

But most of the Shealy Boys led unheralded lives. Many worked for SCE&G Parr hydroelectric plant and later at the McMeekin plant at Lake Murray.

Nearly all of them farmed on the side.

“It wasn’t too long ago that everybody had a cow,” Paul Shealy said.

And, of course, they had lots of children.

“They say there is a Shealy behind every bush here,” Ernest Shealy said. “And sometimes there’s two.”

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