29. The Niland Brothers
During WWII, Edward, Preston, Robert, and Frederick “Fritz” Niland, four sons of Michael and Augusta Niland of Tonawanda, New York, served in the US military. Preston and Robert had joined the US Army before America’s entry into the war, and the other two joined the military in 1942. Because of the Sullivan Brothers tragedy in 1942, when five siblings in the US Navy were killed when the ship aboard which they had served together, the USS Juneau, was sunk, new rules prevented immediate family members from serving together. So the brothers ended up in different units.
Three served in the US Army: Preston in the 4th Infantry Division, Robert in the 82nd Airborne Division, Frederick in the 101st Airborne Division, while Edward joined the US Army Air Forces. Then came 1944, a horrible year for the Nilands. In mid-May, 1944, Edward’s B-25 Mitchell medium bomber was shot down over Burma, and his parents received a telegram that he was missing, presumed dead. Just a few weeks later, before they had even begun to process their grief, Mr. and Mrs. Niland received two more blows: Robert had been killed in Normandy on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, and Preston was killed nearby the following day, June 7th.