|Put. Lyle Brainerd, 77th Infantry Division, was killed in action on Okinawa.|
Lyle W. Brainerd never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on July 9, 1917 in Michigan. His parents were also both born in Michigan. His father worked as a dray driver, and later as a produce house buyer, and yet later as a carpenter. Lyle had two older sisters, three younger sisters and two younger brothers. By 1940 he was no longer living at home. Rather he was living with his wife Addie, a woman nine years his senior with two living children from a prior marriage (which she ended in divorce in 1935). He worked as a truck driver. It looks like Lyle and Addie did not have any children of their own.
He enlisted in the army and became a private in Company G, 2nd Battalion, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division (nicknamed Statue of Liberty). The 77th Infantry Division arrived in Hawaii by the end of March 1944 for further training. In July it took part in the assault on Guam. Its next combat assignment was in the Philippines from December 1944 to February 1945. It is not clear if Pvt. Brainerd was with the 77th Infantry Division for those battles, but he was part of the unit's final battle -- the Battle of Okinawa.
The Statue of Liberty Division replaced the 96th Infantry Division on the front lines on May 1, 1945. For the next month the advance was slow against extremely heavy Japanese resistance. Pvt. Brainerd was killed in action on May 16, 1945. On that day the 2nd Battalion was advancing as ordered and came under fire from mortars, machine guns and antitank weapons from Japanese troops in multiple fortified caves and shafts which ran throughout the hill they were attacking.
His grave is at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. His widow never remarried. She died in 1963.
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