Imagine what it would be like keeping up with six sons, all serving in the military at the same time in World War II.
It happened to Florence’s Emutral Garrison.
She did the best she could do.
For two years, from 1944-46, Emutral kept up a steady correspondence with her six boys, William, James, Rogers, Daniel, Fred and Charles, sending news from home and, most importantly, transmitting news gleaned from one son to all the others.
Daniel Garrison, 92, one of the last two living brothers, served in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Ordnance chief petty officer from 1941 to 1959. Daniel said the letters from home meant everything and were a true blessing.
“My mother had all those letters to write,” Daniel said. “She didn’t leave any of us out. That’s a good mom.”
And Emutral was rewarded; her six sons spent time in harm’s way, but all six came home not too much the worse for wear.
“It was a good feeling we all eventually came back home,” Daniel said. “All six of us did our level best to be responsible as men.”
All of the brothers were born in the Pee Dee and grew up in Florence. Their father, Irwin Garrison, ran Mount Hope Cemetery until 1928 when his son, Rogers, took over. Rogers was the last brother to go into the service (Air Force) in 1944.
All the Garrison men served in either the Navy, Army Air Force or Marines.
Some were in the service for far longer than just World War II. James Garrison served from 1930-58 and, according to Daniel, probably served the worst duty in WWII and Korea. Fred was shot down in Nazi Germany, captured and was a prisoner of war while serving in the Air Force.
The brothers, and the family in general, will be honored at Florence’s Veterans Park later this year. On Veterans Day in November, family members will add the brother’s names to the almost 600 names already on the memorial wall at the park. They’ll be honored with 30 other new names added to the Wall of Honor.
Dan Garrison, son of Charles, said he felt called to honor his uncles and father by adding them to monument.“It certainly instills a sense of pride and appreciation for my heritage,” Dan said. “By God’s grace, they were all able to come home is even more unusual. When they were teenagers they were men in harm’s way all over the world.
“The Veterans Park is a growing, living, breathing service to the Pee Dee in honoring its veterans. My family is excited to be a part of that,” Dan said.
The Garrison brothers’ names will be the biggest single addition from one family to the Florence wall, and Veterans Park chairman and retired U.S. Army Col. Barry Wingard Jr. said the brothers may hold the South Carolina record for the most brothers serving at the same time.
Wingard said while researching the Garrison’s service records to find the proper documentation for them to be added to the wall, he couldn’t find any other families in South Carolina that had six, or more, brothers serving at the same time. There are records from other states of families with seven, but six appears to be the state record.