Looking Back: Three Dunn brothers went to war for their country

Published 5:56 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

Editor’s note: Information for this article came from articles in The Advocate-Messenger archives.


Three Dunn brothers from Danville went to war for their country in 1944.

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J.C. served in the Army and his brothers, Jack and Gene, were in the Navy during World War II.

Jack was a fireman, and Gene was a seaman, when J.C. became a private in December 1944.

Their parents Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dunn of Wilderness Road, Danville, gave up all their sons to serve in the military at the same time.

If J.C. had been allowed to choose he would undoubtedly have joined his brothers in the Navy. Uncle Sam ruled otherwise and assigned him to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, to await orders at the reception center.

Private Dunn was transferred to the Infantry Recruit Training Center, Camp Fannin, Texas, where he underwent a six-week basic training course.

A graduate of Somerset High School with the class of 1937, J.C. was employed by the Greyhound Bus lines before he entered the service. He was married and was the father of 3-year-old J.C. Jr. and Brenda, who had not seen her first birthday when he joined he service. The family lived in Somerset and were frequent visitors of the Dunns in Danville.

Jack was the second son of the family and held the rating of Fireman 1C, gained after special training at University of Illinois following the completion of the Navy “boot” course at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois.

He also graduated from Somerset High School in 1941. He worked for Southern Railway System in Somerset and in Danville railroad shops as a machinist before enlisting in the Navy in 1942.

After spending 11 months in the Pacific area of war operations, Jack was granted a 26-day leave which he spent with his parents, and younger sister June. He returned to the Pacific to roll up another five-month stretch of sea duty.

The youngest son, Gene, and the second one to go to war and second to join the Navy had served in the armed forces since May 1943. He held the rank of Seaman 1C. Leaving Danville High School to fight for his country, he was assigned to duty in the Aleutian Islands. After being home on leave for 23 days, he reported to a West Coast base for reassignment.

The Dunn family attended Lexington Avenue Baptist Church.


Home for holidays

Gene was the only one to be home for the Christmas holidays in 1945.

He was stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his brothers were out of the country. He was a substitute for the trio at the Dunn family Christmas celebration.

At that time, Gene had completed 19 months in the Aleutian Islands. He previously served eight months in the Aleutians before going home on leave.

He sailed from the Pacific Islands off the west coast of Alaska to the islands of Japan, on his way home.

He veered southeast with the Victory Fleet for a long sea journey via Pacific waters to the Panama Canal, through which he traveled to the Atlantic Ocean, eventually docking at Norfolk, Virginia.

He was sent with the fleet to Miami, Florida, to participate in Navy Day ceremonies in October 1945. He went to Charleston, South Carolina, before heading to Philadelphia.

After his 32-day leave, he reported to Louisville for another assignment. He expected to go to Chicago, onto New Orleans and off to sea.

His older brother, Jack was on duty at Guadalcanal after several years in the South Pacific and was discharged in February 1946.

After leaving the military, Jack returned to work for Southern Railroad System in Somerset.

Jack and his wife Iris Nadine Mock were married in March 1946 in South Carolina.

J.C. was with the Army’s Engineering Department in France where he drove a wrecking truck.

He hoped to return home in June to join his wife and two children in Danville.