Darell E. Pettus (1945/05/10)
A soldier left a twin to provide his family with a mirror to the future.
Darell Edward Pettus and his twin brother Harold were born to Mr. and Mrs. Pettus in Hartford, Arkansas, on March 6, 1920. Two older brothers, Carl and Leon, and a sister, Helen, rounded out the Pettus family. The family first moved to Delano, California where Darell completed grammar school. In the mid-1930s, the Pettus family moved to Watsonville and Darell enrolled in Watsonville High School. In school he was affectionately known as Brick because of his red hair and rusty complexion. After school, he delivered newspapers for the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian.
Pettus completed two years of high school before dropping out to work in a feed store. Later he obtained employment at the Crowley and Traulsens store. During the early 1940s, Darell Pettus married Helen and in 1942, a son, Billy, was born to the couple. In 1944, the family was residing in Merced where Pettus worked as carpenter.
Darell Pettus was inducted into the US Army in San Francisco in June 1944 and his wife and son returned to his parents' home in Aromas. He completed basic training at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas, and in December 1944, was sent to the Philippine Islands. Pettus was assigned to the 96th Division of the 10th Army that participated in the invasion at Leyte and was preparing for the Okinawa campaign.
“The invasion of Okinawa began on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945 ...US forces quickly secured the northern half of Okinawa, but any hope that the campaign would be short was dispelled when XXIV Corps struck the first strong points of the "Shuri Line," a sequence of increasingly more formidable defensive belts in depth, on 9 April. Between 9 and 29 April the Division fought through Cactus Ridge and secured Tombstone Ridge, Nishibaru Ridge, and the Maeda Escarpment. Its personnel losses were partially replaced before it returned to combat on 10 May.”
On May 10, 1945, Private First Class Darell Edward Pettus was killed in action while fighting on Okinawa. His remains were later recovered and returned to California, where they were buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery San Bruno in 1950.
(NARA2; USDVA; WRP June 8, 1945 1:2; 96th RRC PAO; The 96th Infantry Division, 1918-1945, http:// www.usarc.army.mil/96thRSC/History/Command/
96th%20Division%20history%20details.htm, [16 September 2008])