Nebraska family has more than a dozen members who served in 20th century

Grand Coulee, WA

The Frederick and Agnes Beierman had 16 children; seven served in the Armed Forces, and five brother-in-laws did as well. Gerald Beierman said his father was a World War I veteran.

Melvin Beierman, the oldest brother, served from 1942-45 with the U.S. Army in Africa and Italy.

Don Beierman, the second oldest, served in the Air Force. Gerald, the youngest son, said separation from the service caused the family confusion among the younger children.

When Don returned home after he was discharged Gerald asked, "Who is brother Don?"

Bill Beierman, the third oldest, served in the Navy from 1943-46.

Ralph "Swede" Beierman served stateside in the Army for two years and then more than a decade in the Army Reserves.

Fred Beierman also served stateside in the Army and Army Reserves.

Jack Beierman served in the Army during the Korean War.

Gerald served in the Navy for years. Half of that time was spent aboard the tin can USS Orleck DD-886 from 1960-62.

"I was a boiler man down in the aft fire room where it was always nice and warm," Gerald said.

Brother-in-laws Don Coors, Jim Fraser, Merlin Stone and Joe Walker all served, too. Brother-in-law Fred Suter made a career in the Air Force, serving about two decades, then another in the Reserves, Gerald said.

"Of all the service our family had, no one was injured or shot or anything with all the brothers and brother-in-laws," he said.

But unfortunately, in the next generation of Beiermans, that changed.

Melvin's sons Charles Beierman and Dale Beierman were both wounded during their service in Vietnam, though they both survived.

Charles said military service was expected in their family. But he said the shared military experience makes his family close-knit.

"We all know what it's like to serve, and we've all been proud to serve. We kind of have a little more spirit about it than other people do."

But Agnes, the late Beierman matriarch, would put it differently.

"Our mother used to say, 'There is no yellow in our family!'" Gerald said.

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