LOCAL NEWS

Five Brothers Honored For Sacrifice, Service To United States

May 28, 2019, 9:47 AM | Updated: 9:50 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Through the tears, the emptiness, and heart aching loss, it often seems death finds a way of gently forcing the living to take pause and look back.

Just weeks ago on a cold and rainy April morning, the life of Staff Sergeant Bert Alexander, U-S Army, 145th Field Artillery Unit, Korean War, was remembered at the American Fork Cemetery in Utah County.

He was a son, a husband, a father and a veteran.

His son, Allen Alexander said, “I think he’s had a sense his life is ending.”

Just six days before his burial, the retired Army veteran was scheduled to sit down and talk with KSL TV about his life and service. When crews arrived for the interview, Bert Alexander was asleep.
His son tried to wake him up.

“Can you wake up dad?” said Allen, “just for a few minutes?”

The interview never happened, though, as Bert passed less than 48 hours later.

Chances are, even if he was physically able to talk, we wouldn’t have heard much about his service in Korea. Bert would have probably told stories of his widowed mother and bragged on his four big brothers, who all served in WWII before him.

“He always just worshiped his brothers,” said Allen, “and he loved these brothers.”

Bill, Bonner, Gale and Jack were all in the army, and for three years, they were all in battle at the same time.

Their mother, Mary Etta Alexander, was thousands of miles away, with little communication with her sons and only headlines to tell the story.

“She was widowed with a family,” said grandson Cal Alexander. “She worked two jobs, she was devoted to her family, I’m sure it was hell for her.”

Over the years, government documents and family letters have been tracked down. One of those letters, from Mary Etta to her oldest son, Bill, is especially telling of what she was going through.

In the letter she writes: “Yes son, it is hell to be away from your family. I know a little how you feel. It nearly killed me when all of my boys left me. And then to get word of Gale.”

Gale was son No. 3. He was a Staff Sergeant Platoon Leader in the Army’s 15th Infantry Regiment, which was the most decorated combat unit of WWII.

He was injured on the battlefield in Italy.

A government document, from an eye witness spells out Gale’s heroics.

It reads:

“I am Norbert Wisinski, Second Lieutenant, 0-1318357, Executive Officer, Company I, in the Fifteenth Infantry Regiment, in which capacity I witnessed the following action:

On 4 February 1944, at 1400 hours, our company was attacking southwest of Cisterna di Littoria, Italy, but we were held up by an enemy machine gun on the commanding ground to our front. The fire was coming from a well fortified position from which the Germans had excellent observation and grazing fire. Two men had been killed and six wounded in the assault platoon.

When he saw the situation, Staff Sergeant GALE ALEXANDER, 39676152, a squad leader who was acting as platoon leader, left the wadi in which he had taken cover, and ran alone toward the right of the enemy position in an attempt to flank it. Machine gun bullets from this gun and four or five other machine guns were firing into the area, kicking up the dirt on both sides of him, but, inspite of this and the artillery and mortar shells that were falling in the area, he ran boldly on unable to use cover.

When he had run about a hundred yards, he suddenly came upon two Germans, evidently security for the gun position. He quickly fired with his Thompson Sub Machin Gun, killing one instantly and wounding the other.

He then advanced some thirty yards more in short bounds and threw two hand grenades into the machine gun emplacement, and, yelling for the forward platoon to follow, he charged the last twenty yards in to the position and knocked the gun out.

Staff Sergeant Alexander’s fearless action under direct machine gun fire for twenty minutes, enabled our company to obtain the objective, caused the deaths of three Germans, and prevented any further casualties to our own men.

I was an eyewitness to the above facts.”

Gale was shot and injured, but he returned to the battlefield shortly after.

His mother was eventually notified by the military of the injury, allowing her to send, in no more than 5 words, a “radio message of cheer.”

Just 5 words: “You’re in my thoughts always.” Love, Mother.

The heroics of that day earned Gale a Purple Heart and, one of the highest decorations for valor in combat, the Silver Star.

“Gale was 25 years old at the time,” said nephew Cal, “and basically left it all on the battlefield.”

It was a battlefield, that during the five-month Anzio campaign in Italy, left 12,000 dead and 71,000 wounded, missing or captured.

Gale was lucky to be alive.

And on June 9, 1944, just after D-day, his brother Jack took pen to paper and wrote Gale a letter he had no idea would be the last.

It read in part:

“I’ve been reading about the good work you have all been doing over there. I’ve got a good idea of your job when you are in combat and I know how rough it is. Here’s wishing you all the luck in the world and I’m hoping that we will be seeing each other before long. -Jack”

Exactly two months later, that very letter was returned. Gale never got a chance to read it. He was killed on the battlefield, weeks before Jack ever wrote it.

Seventy-five years to the day, in a small cemetery in Vernal, Gale and his brothers have not been forgotten.

In a ceremony unveiling a newly-erected memorial, a direct descendant of each brother shared stories of remembrance.

Bert is not forgotten.

“He was a true protector and a true provider, and he taught us to honor and respect women,” his son Allen said.

Bill is not forgotten.

“He was proud to have served his country,” his daughter Bonnie said. “When a storm came, he guided us just enough so we would learn to be strong and tough.”

Bonner is not forgotten.

“Uncle Bonner is full of tales about the war, and tells you things your mom would wish he wouldn’t,” said his niece, Gaila Fossum. “Uncle Bonner is a hero.”

Jack is not forgotten.

“He was the last of the four brothers to join the fight in WWll,” said granddaughter Kallie Andrus, “and also the last to return home.”

The posterity of the Alexander family shared stories, payed tribute, and finally dedicated a monument that now firmly stands, quietly reminding those who pass by not just to remember. On this and every Memorial Day hereafter, it will gently forcing the living to look back and honor the sacrifices of a mother and her five sons.

“Their example, their sacrifice, shaped all of us,” said Cal Alexander, summing it up perfectly. “Our job today is to make sure they’re not forgotten.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Zachary Crane and Gabriella Arnold, two students who had their tests destroyed....
Debbie Worthen

High school students retake AP tests after school mix up destroyed them

Two dozen Green Canyon High School students in North Logan won’t get credit for AP tests they took last May as the tests were mistakenly destroyed in transit.
1 day ago
Photo illustration (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Your credit card can up your interest rate without telling you

If your credit card company raises your interest rate even just a little bit, it could have a significant impact on how long it takes you to get out of debt. A relatively new law means your credit card company can do just that and they do not even have to give you the heads up.
1 day ago
Police closing the road of Mountain View Corridor and 9000 South after an accident. (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Three vehicle crash closes Mountain View Corridor, one passenger ejected

Police closed a portion of Mountain View Corridor after a three-vehicle crash Tuesday night.
1 day ago
Kevin Linford (Facebook)...
Michael Houck & Andrew Adams

Additional charges filed for Utah business owner accused of sexually assaulting two women

The Utah business owner arrested for assaulting two women at a party is facing additional sexual assault charges.
1 day ago
The sewer line rapid assessment tool or SL-RAT in use in a Salt Lake City street,...
Shelby Lofton

Singing sewer technology saves water for Utah

Singing technology is being used underground across Utah, saving the state a lot of water.
1 day ago
A holy bible and crucifix rest atop the United States Constitution and American flag, which is embl...
Canice Madsen & Boyd Matheson

‘A More Perfect Union’: Upholding the Constitution

Many people from across the political spectrum believe the Constitution is in crisis. In the upcoming KSL Special ‘A More Perfect Union', Boyd Matheson takes a closer look at how we as individuals can uphold the guiding principles of the Constitution.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Five Brothers Honored For Sacrifice, Service To United States