Eleven brothers raised on a farm in rural Alabama have served a combined total of 158 years of service in the U.S. military.
The “band of brothers” were part of a family of 16 — including three sisters and two brothers who did not enter the military — raised on a 60-acre cotton farm in Wetumpka, Alabama, where the family worked hard to put food on the table.
The parents worked to instill moral and ethical values in their children, according to Arguster Davis, 67, the youngest brother of the pack.
As soon as the boys graduated high school, it was a natural path for them to enter military service. Military service in the Davis family spanned generations, as the 11 brothers’ uncle, 99-year-old Master Sgt. Thomas Davis, survived the surprise ambush at Pearl Harbor.
The first brother, Ben Davis Jr., enlisted in the Navy in 1944 in the middle of World War II. Arguster enlisted in the Air Force for four years and then served in the Air Force Reserve until 1998.
“Being in the military, it was a fine thing,” said one brother Lebronze Davis, 70, who fought in the Vietnam War as an Army soldier and has survived cancer and heart surgery. “We all think we’ve done an outstanding job.”
Seven of the 11 brothers recently reunited in Tunica, Mississippi, to do some gambling and hit the buffet tables to celebrate three July birthdays.
“We just like to get together and talk trash and just have a good time,” said Octavious, 80, who served in the Army. “All of us are close.”
There were four out of the 11 veterans who could not make the get-together. Washington Davis — who served six years in the Army — passed away. The others, Ben Davis; Alphonza Davis, a 29-year-veteran of the Army; and Calvin Davis, who did a four-year stint in the Navy, could not attend the reunion.
These brothers’ service to the nation has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, the National Infantry Museum Foundation honored the 11 men and their uncle for their service to this country by etching their names into four paving stones at the museum in Columbus, Georgia.
“What these brothers did out of love for both family and country is nothing short of remarkable,” National Infantry Museum Foundation President Pete Jones said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Their sense of duty is unrivaled, and is the kind of spirit that makes our nation’s armed forces the greatest in the world.”