There's another Fulton County family - the Saygers - that gave five sons to the country's armed forces in World War II as did the Daultons and Smileys, previously recounted here. Their tale also must be recalled for its singularity.

Herschel and Mary Burnett Sayger raised a family of 11 on their farm southwest of Athens. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, to send the U.S. into the global war, six of the seven Sayger sons were old enough for military service. One son already was in the Army; four others were to join.

The five brothers were: Harry, Walter, Omer, Maurice and Leroy. All five survived the war; only Harry and Walter are alive today.

The sixth son, Otis, could not pass his Army physical examination because of a lung condition. He died in 1983. The seventh and youngest son, Jack, served following the war after reaching military age. He lives in Rochester, as do Harry and Walter.

Harry Sayger, who became a staff sergeant, went into the Army long before Pearl Harbor, on Jan. 16, 1941, and served 58 months, nearly five years. He was sent first to the West Coast but tired of garrison duty and volunteered for the Paratroops. Early in 1945 his unit was flown to France to be dropped into combat east of the Rhine River, within Nazi Germany. The war in Europe ended before the mission could be ordered.

Harry has been secretary of the Rochester Eagles Lodge for 40 years and a member for 53 years. His wife, the former Maxine Lowe of Rochester, was a volunteer in the Women's Army Corps for a year. The couple married while in uniform, in 1945 at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Walter Sayger served 34 months from February, 1943, first with a chemical warfare unit attached to the 8th and 9th Air Corps. A private first class, he sailed to Europe on the Queen Mary and was overseas 22 months, near war's end hauling gasoline from Paris to U.S. airfields. Afterward he volunteered into the infantry and was back in the U.S. training for the war in the Pacific when it ended. He became a truck driver for Dean Foods, retiring in May, 1987. Walter's wife is the former Nancy Lou Baker of Plymouth. He and Harry were stationed within 30 miles of one another in France early in 1945, but both were unaware of it.

Omer Sayger entered the Air Corps in early 1942 and served 42 months, discharging as a sergeant. He was a tailgunner on a B-24 bomber in the South Pacific and came closer than any Sayger brother to be harmed. When his plane was shot down, he and his crew spent 12 hours in the water until a U.S. submarine picked them up. After the war he lived in Dayton, Ohio, where he met his wife, Joy Darrough, who survives. She also served as a WAC. Omer died in 1987.

Maurice Sayger, a private first class, landed with the U.S. Fifth Army

for the invasion of Italy at Anzio in January, 1944. He served 33 months from 1943 and on his return lived south of Athens until his death in 1994. His wife, the former Irene Miller, died in 1992.

Walter and Maurice rode the same bus from Rochester for their draft

induction physicals. When they arrived in Indianapolis, they were sent in different directions and did not see one another for almost three years. Their reunion was on a 20-below zero day in South Bend where Maurice came to pick up Walter, the last of the family to return.

The fifth soldier-son, Leroy Sayger, entered the Army in 1944 and served 21 months as a corporal in Army camps in Texas and at Biloxi, Mississippi. After the war he worked at Inland Steel and the Calumet City Refinery in the Gary region. Leroy died in 1985; his wife Ruth in 1987.

John Sayger, known as Jack, was too young for the World War II draft but went into the Army in June, 1952, and served two years, all in the continental U.S. He is retired from Sibley's Foundry in South Bend, where brothers Harry, Otis and Maurice also worked until retirement.

The four daughters of the 11-member Herschel and Mary Sayger family all survive. Three are in Rochester: Nancy (Harry) Baker, Maude (Bill) Coleman and Laura Jean (Jack) Lewis. The fourth, Willodean Collins, lives in Warsaw. A constant concern in their lives during those wartime years was the well-being of their five brothers.

Published Sept. 15, 1998