While much has been written about the legend and heroics during the Civil War associated with Monroe’s General George Armstrong Custer – along with his defeat and tragedy that is associated with Custer’s Last Stand – little is mentioned about relatives of Custer who honorably served in the U.S. military and made significant contributions to education, engineering and historical preservation.
Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer was General George Armstrong Custer’s grand nephew. Born in Monroe on June 9, 1901, Brice Calhoun William Custer was a decorated military leader on the European front during World War II. He was awarded the prestigious Silver Star – the U.S. Armed Forces third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat – for actions in France in 1945 mere months before the war’s end.
According to Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer’s online memorial, he received the following citation: “The President of the United States of America… takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) Brice C. W. Custer, United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with Headquarters, 1st. Battalion, 232d Infantry Regiment, 42d Infantry Division, in action on 6 January 1945 near Stadtmatten, France. Answering radio call for assistance from two platoons of his Battalion which was completely surrounded by the enemy, Colonel Custer organized a small force of twenty infantrymen. Personally leading the attack against… German automatic weapons, small arms and rocket launcher fire, Colonel Custer so employed his small force that the enemy was completely defeated, the two platoons rescued, and the town of Stadtmatten retaken. Approximately 40 of the enemy were killed and 100 taken prisoner. The conspicuous gallantry and leadership displayed by Colonel Custer exemplifies the finest traditions of military service.”
Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer also had the distinction of serving in the three major wars of the 20th century – World War I, World War 2, and Korea. Like his great uncle George Armstrong Custer, Lt. Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer commanded the 7th U.S. Cavalry from April 4 to 8 1947, June 25 to 30 1947, Aug. 13 to 21 1947. They were charged with escorting Gen. Douglas MacArthur into Tokyo after World War II. Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer commanded Army reservists in Billings, Montana during Korea. He is buried in Section 32, Site 366 – Arlington National Cemetery.
Lt. Col. Brice Calhoun William Custer’s oldest son and namesake of his great uncle – George Armstrong Custer III was born in Monroe on October 6, 1923. Like his father, George Armstrong Custer III was a three-war career officer – serving in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. In Vietnam, he led troops which were part of the Battle of Renegade Woods – Hieu Thien District, Tay Ninh Province, which took place from April 3 to April 6, 1970. Using a C&C (Command and Control) helicopter to direct troops, Custer navigated storms and terrain to post victory and limit losses in Company Charlie to 12 troops. Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer III died May 18, 1991 and is buried in Monroe’s Woodland Cemetery.
Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer III’s younger brother, Major Brice C. Custer, was born in Monroe on May 30, 1927. Major Brice C. Custer first graduated from Michigan State with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He became an aviation cadet and was commissioned in January, 1953. He was F-84 gunnery school and the assignment to Korea with the 8th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. He ended his career as a staff engineer at Lockheed’s Missile and Space Division. Major Brice C. Custer died October 27, 2007 in Georgetown, Texas and is buried in nearby Bell County.
Tom Adamich is President – Visiting Librarian Service, a firm he has operated since 1993. He also is Project Archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and Family Archives.