Weatherford Democrat

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July 25, 2012

Brothers in arms

WEATHERFORD —  

Robert Branch considers himself a God-fearing man who believes in hard work and clean living, a mindset he shares with his family and his three brothers.

But it’s not the only thing he and his siblings have in common.

Branch’s father, Carlos, spent two years in the Army, and that experience would be something that affected his four sons.

The foursome together have a total of 98 years of military service, 100 years including their father, who served in the Army during World War I.

Carlos C. Jr., now 86, retired from the Air Force after 31 years, Thomas, now 83, retired from the Air Force after 20-plus years, Billy, now 77, retired from Marines after 25-plus years and Robert, who turns 79 next month, retired from the Army after serving 21 years.

“Two of us went in before we were even of age,” Robert Branch said. “The oldest went in at 16 because the second World War was going, and when it was my turn, I joined at 15.”

Throughout his tours, Branch served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and was honored with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

“I went into the Army in 1949 and immediately after basic, I went to Guam when I was 16,” he recalls. “I got to Korea Aug. 4, 1950 and turned 17 the next day.”

While in Korea, Branch was a part of a combat engineer outfit that built bridges to get across rivers.

“We were getting shot at while building bridges, so I changed and went into infantry,” he said.

Branch arrived in Vietnam in 1967, serving for a year and getting wounded twice. His kid brother, Billy, was also in Vietnam at the time and was also wounded.

Branch retired from the military in August of 1970 at Fort Wolters.

“All of us think alike, and we would like to have the opportunity to do it all over again, thinking that we would do better than we did the first time,” Branch said of himself and his siblings. “The military was good for all of us, and even though I’m 100 percent disabled now, it’s been a great trip.”

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