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Glen Edmond Pryor

Courtesy Jean Pryor Samples

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Glen Edmond Pryor
1918-1944

"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."

James Allen

Army Corporal Glen Edmond Pryor was born in Belmont, Pleasants County, West Virginia, on October 8, 1918. The older son of Allie L. and Stella Mae Braun Pryor, he joined sisters Evelyn (married name: Mrs. Clifford Oliver) and Hazel (married name: Mrs. Eugene Brown). Evelyn, Hazel, and Glen would later add sister [Essie] Jean (married name: Mrs. James Samples) and brother [Beryl] Edgar, who married Betty Paynter. Evelyn and Clifford had four children: Eugene, Billy, Norma, and Janet. Edgar and Betty had two children: a daughter Janet and a son they named for Glen.
Baby Glen

Glen's baby picture. Courtesy Jean Pryor Samples

Family life for the Pryors is well chronicled in a History of Pleasants County article. Jean Samples writes:

During our early years, while living in St. Marys, we have fond memories of our visits to our paternal grandparents’ farm. We loved to help with the usual farm chores. It was interesting to make butter in the tall wooden churn, as well as watching Grandma [paternal grandmother Sarah Jane Cronin Pryor] make soap out of fat in a large black kettle over a fire in the front yard. What a comfort at night to sink down into the softness of the feather mattresses after our busy day!

The mornings began at 5 A.M. and the aroma of ham, eggs, potatoes, and biscuits filled the long, narrow kitchen. The coffee was strong and delicious, having usually been ground fresh in a small wooden grinder with a black crank on top. Grandma cooked on a large black stove which had free fuel due to the number of gas wells on the farm.

She continues:

Each summer the family reunion was enjoyed by all, but especially by the grandchildren who liked the farm animals. In the fall, we crossed the small creek in front of the two-story wooden house to gather hazel nuts….

We children enjoyed the winter’s sled riding. In the summers there were play parties at alternate farms. Young folks would come for miles to participate in a type of folk dancing, usually followed by a wiener roast. There were also interesting woods in which to play, as well as the appeal of the old swimming hole on the Cooke Farm at Henry Camp. (Source: Jean Pryor Samples, “The Allie Pryor Family,” in Pleasants County Historical Society, History of Pleasants County West Virginia to 1980. Taylor Publishing Company: Paoli, PA, & Dallas, TX, 1980: 253-4.)

Glen graduated from St. Marys High School in 1936. An all-around athlete, he played basketball in 1935, softball in 1935 and 1936, football in 1935, and ran track in 1935 and 1936. Of this involvement, his sister Jean writes:

Glen liked sports. He used to ice skate on the Ohio River at St. Marys when the river was frozen—I used to watch and worry. He built a trapeze once which I enjoyed, also a bobsled which provided fun for several of us.

Prior to his Army enlistment, he worked at the Quaker State Refinery in the city, where a number of his family members also were employed.

Glen Pryor and Mary Braun

Glen with his maternal grandmother, Mary Braun. Courtesy Jean Pryor Samples

On December 9, 1941—just two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—Glen enlisted in the Army at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. At that time he stated that he had obtained four years of high school and was employed in “semiskilled occupations in refining of petroleum.” Glen was assigned to the 1st Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, where he rose to the rank of corporal. His brother Edgar—seven years younger—would also enter the service toward the end of the war.

In any war, fighting is intense, but soldiers also have idle time, often passed in sending and receiving mail. Like many of his peers, Glen sent frequent correspondences home. One type of mail was the greeting card fashioned by the soldier’s unit. Glen sent the following to his father:

Card

Greeting card produced by the battalion. Courtesy Jean Pryor Samples

Rodney Brewer, writing for the website Military.com Unit Pages, provides a succinct, yet enlightening, history of the 1st Armored Division, the World War II portion of which is summarized below:

One of the oldest and most prestigious armored divisions in the United States Army, the 1st Armored was activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on July 15, 1940. Because General George S. Patton had just named his 2nd Armored Division “Hell on Wheels,” Major General Bruce R. Magruder felt his division also needed a nickname. Brewer states: “While mulling the matter over, he happened to glance at a picture of the USS Constitution that he had bought during a drive for funds for the preservation of that famous fighting ship….” After rejecting several monikers, Magruder settled on “Old Ironsides,” noting the parallel between the development of the Army’s tank and the Navy’s “Old Ironsides.”

In November 1942 [11 months after Glen’s enlistment], the 1st Armored became an integral part of the invasion of French Northwest Africa (“Operation Torch”). It was the first American division to see combat. After establishing a beachhead, the division advanced toward Tunisia. Brewer says, “Harsh conditions and primitive roads spoiled an early opportunity to capture Tunisia and cut off Rommel’s supply lines…,” but January 1943 found the division defending central Tunisia under the aegis of the II Corps. After several months of advancing and retreating in heavy skirmishes such as Kasserine Pass, the Allies were able to claim victory in North Africa, invade Sicily, and prepare for the invasion of Italy. The 1st Armored landed at Salerno on September 9, 1943, then advanced toward Naples. When that city fell, the division became part of the force that breached the so-called Winter Line, but came to a halt in the “mountainous county near Cassino.” Brewer states: “To break the stalemate, the Allies made an amphibious assault well behind enemy lines at Anzio on 23 January 1944.” It was on to Rome, where the Allies liberated the city on June 4. Continuing northward, the 1st Armored pursued the Germans into the Apennines and then the Po Valley, with the Germans eventually surrendering. The 1st Armored served in Germany in 1945 as part of the Allied occupation forces. The division as it was known in World War II was inactivated in 1946 (though activated in later conflicts). (Source: Rodney Brewer, “1st Armored Division,” Military.com Unit Pages, accessed February 24, 2014, http://www.military.com/HomePage/UnitPageHistory/1,13506,100079%7C965958,00.html.)

On May 26, 1944—just nine days before the liberation of Rome—Cpl. Glen Pryor was killed in action. A death notice in the St. Marys Oracle (July 29, 1948: 1) notes his place of death as on the Cisterna Highway on the way to Rome. Jean Samples writes:

He had a broken arm and was in a hospital in Italy. Upon discharge from there, he and three others were in a tank in Italy, three miles south of Rome going to join others. The tank contained a “Booby Trap” which resulted in the death of all four.

Originally buried in the Sicily-Rome American Military Cemetery [Nettuno] in Italy, Cpl. Pryor’s remains were returned to the States in 1948, where he was interred with full military rites in the St. Marys I.O.O.F. Cemetery (and where his father and mother would join him in 1970 and 1977, respectively). A young man, full of potential—who knows what he might have become after the war—would he have returned home to work in his civilian job, attended school on the GI Bill, married and had children? As one whose life was cut short, Glen Pryor deserves to be counted among the “Greatest Generation.”
Baby Glen

Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno. Courtesy American Battle Monuments Commission

Family information provided by Cpl. Pryor’s sister, Jean Pryor Samples. Article prepared by Patricia Richards McClure

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Glen Pryor

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