I look through a lot of records, some are quite boring if I’m perfectly honest, but most are interesting or informative and once in a while one makes me smile. Today I smiled. It wasn’t a happy subject. I was searching through military headstone applications on Ancestry.com, which right away tells you the subject matter is pretty gloomy.
The record that brought a smile to my face was that for Lloyd Charles Harless. On 29 December 1939, just 8 days after his 18th birthday, Lloyd enlisted in the United States Army.
World War 2 had begun, but the United States was not militarily involved and the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was not yet instituted. This meant that Lloyd had not been required to register for the draft and so by all accounts his enlistment in the army was a voluntary one.
As the oldest son, perhaps he felt it was his duty, or perhaps he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Lloyd’s father, Lissus H. Harless, had served in World War 1 when he too was just a teenager.
I don’t know much about Lloyd’s military service. I do know that in 1940 he was stationed at Fort Preble in Maine and that he served in the 439th Anti-Aircaft Artillery Battalion.
On 31 July 1944 Lloyd Charles Harless was killed in action. He was 22 years old.
I have not searched the Graves Registration Records as yet, but from his unit information it appears he was killed in Italy fighting in the Rome-Arno Campaign when the 439th was temporarily converted to infantry duty in Task Force 45.
From the headstone application made by his father and shown here, we know that his body was returned to his family for burial in the US.
I know you are wondering how any of this could have made me smile.
I smiled because I checked the reverse of the card. How many times do we forget to do that? We’ve seen the front, we have the information we were looking for, on the back we expect to see nothing more than an address or a few date stamps, but when I checked the back of Lissus H. Harless’s application for a military headstone for his hero son, I saw his pride.
I saw his pride and that made me smile.
“We don’t need this permit. Beech Grove is the Harless Cemetery for 5 generations given by Lloyds grand parents for that purpose.” Lissus Harless ‘Father’
I hope it made you smile too.
Here is where I found the record, there are several more Harless soldiers in the collection.
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963