Four men from rural Greene County, Illinois died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, including Lloyd Glenn Bryant.
The four lived just eight miles apart and knew one another. Mr. Bryant and his best friend from boyhood, Vincent “Tommy” Duron Thomas, were from Hillview, population 544.
They enlisted in the Navy together on Oct. 4, 1939, and in the summer before their deaths they married sisters in Glendale, California. They were married three days when the men found out that the ship’s visit to the West Coast would soon end and that they would return to Hawaii by early July. They never again saw their wives — Helen married to Lloyd, and Myrtle married to Tommy.
Both men attended Hillview High, but because it included only three grades, they then transferred to White Hall High in nearby White Hall, Illinois. They graduated in 1938.
White Hall was the home of the other two local men killed on the Arizona: Joe Otis McGlasson and Edward Smith. White Hall’s 1940 population was 3,025.
Mr. Smith graduated from White Hall in 1937. Mr. McGlasson was the same age as Mr. Smith, but he left school after 8th grade to work and help his family.
The American Legion Hall in Hillview was named in memory of Mr. Bryant and Mr. Thomas. Memorial stones at the Veterans of Foreign Wars cemetery in White Hall honor Mr. Smith and Mr. McGlasson.
Mr. Bryant was born Nov. 15, 1919. His mother, Rachel Beasley Bryant, was a homemaker and his father, Harvey Bryant, a farm laborer. The son was a boatswain’s mate and petty officer second class when he was killed.
A few months before her son died, his mother became concerned about the possibility of war. He wrote to her: “Don’t worry mother, the only thing that could sink us would be a direct hit from a bomb.” That is exactly what happened.