Six Years, Four Months
Brothers David Hill Henry, Jr. and Rufus Earl Sadler Henry of Clemson both attended their hometown college—and both answered their country’s call to arms in the cold, dark months following Pearl Harbor.
David, the oldest of the three Henry boys, had graduated from Clemson College in 1936 with a degree in textile engineering. As a cadet, he had been active in campus life, serving as the chairman of the Central Dance Association’s placing committee and as president of Alpha Chi Psi social club. A member of Tiger Brotherhood, David completed ROTC summer training at Camp McClellan, Alabama in 1935 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve upon graduation.
Rufus, the middle son in the family, was six years younger than David. Like his older brother, Rufus was remembered as “out-going and well-liked.” He too was an engineering major, though his discipline was mechanical. Rufus worked on the staff of The Tiger, and was a member of the Central Dance Association, ASME and Alpha Chi Psi.
Following graduation, David was employed by Union Bleachery in Greenville. He was called to military service in January 1942. Rufus was then in his senior year at Clemson, expecting to graduate in the spring. Instead of completing his coursework, Rufus enlisted in the Army in February and volunteered for the Air Corps.
As David shipped overseas in January 1943, Rufus was moving through training assignments first in Mississippi, then Maryland and Georgia. He was sent to Illinois and later to Yale University where he received his second lieutenant’s commission in April. Following his commissioning, Rufus completed training with Boeing aircraft in Seattle, Washington before earning his flight engineer wings in Kansas.
David was assigned to the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, landing on Utah Beach on D-Day. For the next month, the 22nd fought to widen its section of the Allied beachhead on the Cotentin Peninsula. On July 11, 1944, while serving as commanding officer of A Company, 1st Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, Captain David Henry was killed in action in the vicinity of La Maugerie, France.
A year after earning his commission, Rufus was on his way to India as a member of the 677th Bombardment Squadron of the 444th Bomb Group (Very Heavy). The 444th was the first group built around the new B-29. The 677th planned to fly missions against Japan from forward bases in China. On the day before David would land on Utah Beach, Rufus’s squadron launched its first combat mission targeting the Makasan rail yards at Bangkok, Thailand. Ten days later, the 677th attacked Japan in the first raid against the home islands since the daring Doolittle mission more than two years earlier.
After completing seven combat missions over Japan, Rufus was lost when his B-29 crashed near Chengtu, China on November 21, 1944, just four months after David’s death.
David Hill Henry, Jr. was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman Badge. He is buried at Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
Rufus Earl Sadler Henry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Purple Heart. He is interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Henry brothers were survived by their mother, Etta, and the youngest Henry son, Albert, then serving in the Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. When word was received of Rufus’s death, Albert’s overseas deployment orders were rescinded and he remained in the United States for the duration of his service.
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