Did you knew how many descendants of a Custer family served in the US Army since the death of theirs famous ancestor?
Well, I’ve dig some books and websites of some American genealogical societies and want to share what I’ve found.
First of all – if you hate GAC and the whole thing about him, stop the reading, please. It’s a simple story about simple and not-so-distinguished men who served in the military, bearing the name of the man who with almost every male member of the family rode into the Valley of Death to fight his last battle. No one of Custers fled, unlike his batallion commanders. It should counts for something.
As you know George A. Custer had three brothers who survived childhood (another two died as babies) – Boston, Thomas and Nevin.
Although he was married George never had any children (because of gonorrhoea he contracted during his Point years). Boston and Tom never been married. It fell to Nevin, youngest of Custer’s lineage to continue the family tree. And that he did. He left a son, named James Calhoun Custer who in his turn brings the Custer family into a new century.
About those men I’d like to tell.
There were four Custers, who served in the US military during the last century.
Brice Calhoun William Custer (1902-1969). Was born on 9th June, 1901 in Frenchtown, Monroe, Michigan. Served in the US Army, Infantry branch. During the World War 2 he fought in France and after war in Europe ended was sent to Pacific, to join 7th cavalry regiment, part of the 1st Cavalry Division. Lt. Colonel Custer and his men provided an escort for General Douglas MacArthur when he made his official entry into Tokyo. After the war Brice Custer commanded the Army reserves in Billings. The most remarkable yet largely unknown event happened when he portrayed a cavalry corporal in 1951 western movie “Warpath”, carrying regimental colours behind actor who played role of his grand ancestor. Brice C.W. Custer retired military as a Colonel and died in 1969 in Monterrey, California.
Charles Armstrong Custer (1910-1992). Born 14th January, 1910, probably in Frenchtown, as his brother Brice. There’s not much I’ve learned about him, even less then about Brice. He served in 115th Infantry regiment in France during the World War 2, and AAR stated that he was relieved of command of 3d battalion on 23d June, 1944 at 15-00. It is interesting because he took command of it on 17th June. Reason unknown. His tombstone stated that he also served in Korean War. Maybe US military records will shed a light on his career but I do not have an access to it. Charles Custer retired as a Colonel and died in 1992. According to Custer’s family tree he had four children.
George Armstrong Custer III (1923-1991). Born 6th October, 1923 in Monroe, Michigan. He was also a career Army officer who served in Vietnam war, commanding 2d battalion, 27th Infantry regiment at closing of war. Lt. Colonel Custer was involved in Battle in Renegade Woods from 2d to 5th April of 1970 in which he flew in a C&C chopper, had his share of close calls, lost 12 men yet was victorious. He was cool, calm and mastered an art of combined warfare very well. He was described by his subordinates and fellow officers as “bald, blocky and bad-mouthed” and always stood his ground on tactical matters. Although he was bald, men at his command called him “Yellow Hair” and he had Custer’s luck in a good sense. It is worthy to mention, that Custer’s 2d battalion was reinforced by scouts from D Troop of 3/4 Cavalry in addition to mechanized companies and Rangers. Colonel Custer died on 18th May, 1991.
The last Custer who served in the military was Brice Calhoun Custer, Jr (1927-2007). Born on May, 30th to Brice C.W. Custer, in Monroe, Michigan. He enlisted in th U.S. Navy in January of 1945 at the age of 17, leaving the school early. After war’s end he returned to Michigan and attended state university where he received B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1950. When Korean war began he spent several month preparing to enlist into Air Forces Aviation Cadet Program. He succeeded and received his commision in January 1953. He was assigned to 8th Fighter-Bomber squadron in Korea as jet fighter pilot and flew a few combat actions before the end of war. Brice Custer acquired Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering and subsequent assignments in the Physics Department at the Air Force Academy and the Nuclear Weapons Branch of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He retired from Air Force in 1970 as a Major. Later he worked for Lokheed Missile and Space Company.Brice was the only Custer since Libbie, who wrote the book.”Sacrificial Lion” is about Custers family, his grand ancestor and father. Brice, like his father, brother and uncle was a staunch defender of the name of George A. Custer and his legacy, always spoke at the events dedicated to him.Major Brice Custer died on October 27, 2007 in Georgetown, Texas, where he lived.
Here it is, brief and incomplete history of Custer family in the XX century. I tried and compiled as much information about it as I could because it’s never in one place anywhere. It is interesting, that Custers does not associated themselves with Cavalry again. They were infantrymen, jet pilots and physics, but no horse soldiers anymore.