Band of six brothers served in World War II





Hollywood has "Saving Private Ryan," and the History Channel chronicled the story of the five Irish-American Sullivan brothers, who fought and died during World War II.

But for Iven "Bruce" O'Neal of Hernando, the story of six brothers, including himself, who served during World War II, is a story which has never been told until now.

O'Neal served with the 97th Division, U.S. Infantry in Le Harve, France, and in the Rhineland with U.S. General George S. Patton in command. He later took part in the Japanese occupation.

Similar to the scene in "Saving Private Ryan," in which government officials launch a quest to keep the last surviving son of a Midwest family out of the war, O'Neal's own father sought help from Mississippi Gov. Theodore G. Bilbo to keep his youngest son out of harm's way.

Things moved slowly back then, and Bruce's superior officers didn't get the message until the war was nearly over.

"President Truman made it a ruling," O'Neal said. "So my father went to Sen. Bilbo to get me out. I didn't want to get out."

Bruce O'Neal decided to stay in the war, along with his six brothers. Only his older brother Harl, nearing 90, is still living....


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