Harold Matthew Branton, 91, of Shongaloo, passed away on December 29 in Houston, Texas.
Visitation will be at Bailey Funeral Home in Springhill today (Jan. 4, 2013) from 5 until 8 p.m.
Funeral service will be held at Mt. Paran Baptist Church in Shongaloo at 2 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2013. Military honors and burial will follow at Union Springs Cemetery.
Harold Matthew Branton was born in Shongaloo to Marion and Addie Mae Branton on June 13, 1921. He graduated from Shongaloo High School in 1940 and graduated from Louisiana State University in 1943 where he served in the ROTC program as Battalion Commander.
Upon his commission as second lieutenant and assignment to combat duties in the United States Army, European Theatre of WWII, he fought bravely as an officer of G Company, 409th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division.
Harold Branton served his country as an infantry officer for 24 years. His active duty years spanned World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. Significant assignments during his Army career included: WWII Western European Campaign; Battle of the Bulge and Siegfried Line, Counter Intelligence in Occupied Germany, Korea Reorganized Campaign, Foreign Security in Tokyo, Japan, Coordinator of USA JROTC operations and Asst. G1 Berlin Command during the time that the Berlin Wall was erected.
Lt. Colonel Branton wrote field manuals for NATO and later developed strategies and tactics for initial Army Air Assault operations while serving as Projects Officer in Arms Development Command at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
During his tenure with the US Army, Harold Branton received numerous decorations, medals and badges, including three Bronze medals for bravery, Expert and Combat Infantry Badges, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army Meritorious Service Medal.
From his many citations, he received recognition from General Creighton Abrams, General I. D. White, Major General Christian Clarke and Major General Harry Lemley and others.
After his military retirement in 1966 as lieutenant colonel senior grade, Harold completed post-graduate coursework in history at the University of Kansas and became a successful real estate broker and insurance salesman in Shreveport and Kerrville, Texas.
He wrote several books on military subjects. Harold was an active church member, deacon or Bible study teacher in local churches wherever he lived, but he always had special affection for his home church, Mt. Paran Baptist Church in Shongaloo.
His hobbies involved building or remodeling churches in addition to grounds improvements on church, missionary, cemetery and parsonage sites. He actively supported American Legion, Wounded Warriors Program, 103rd Infantry Division Association, as well as conservative, political and Christian organizations. Harold gave generously from his vegetable garden each season, counting it a joy to share his annual harvest with his family and neighbors.
Harold Branton is preceded in death by his brother, Parey P. Branton of Shongaloo and his sister, Dorothy Patton of Shreveport, both of whom died in summer of 2011 and his niece, Kathy Mae Cobb Woodson of Shreveport who died in 2004.
Harold Branton is survived by his wife and life companion of 69 years, Elsie Bennett Branton of Anniston, Alabama and his four daughters, Ann Branton of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Gail Holder (Charles) of Orlando, Florida, Bobbie Murray (Blair) of Kerrville, Texas, and Kay Freeman (Steve) of New Caney, Texas; and his sister, Mutelle Thompson of Springhill.
His grandchildren are Jason Holder (Kelly), Jeremy Holder (Jamie), Joshua Murray (Crystal), Miles Murray (Valerie), Michael Freeman (Lauren), Sarah Freeman, Mark Freeman and Katherine Freeman.
Great-grandchildren are Jake Holder, Cody Holder, Lily Mae Holder, Madelyn Holder, Mason Holder, Hudson Murray, Griffin Murray and Violet Freeman.
Extended family includes sister-in-law, Georgia Lusby Branton of Shongaloo; nephews, Daniel Branton of Ruston, Parey Branton, Jr., of Shongaloo and Jack Crace, of Shreveport; niece, Pat Turner of Amarillo, Texas, and their children; and his cousin, Ronny Martin of Shreveport.
Serving as pallbearers will be Major Jason Holder, Joshua Murray, Jeremy Holder, Michael Freeman, Captain Miles Murray and Lieutenant Mark Freeman. Honorary pallbearers will be Hammer Washington, Ronny Martin, Jack Crace, Daniel Martin, Parey Branton, Jr. and Perry Wall.
A Facebook page for Harold Branton has been created for friends and family to share stories, special memories, words or expressions of Harold with others. Please contribute to this memory book.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the entire family and friends, Mt. Paran Baptist Church, Bailey Funeral Home and Union Springs Cemetery committee for their loving kindness and hospitality.
John 14:1-4 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going."