TREMONTON – On a hot June 25, 1948, four flag-draped coffins filled the front of the Garland tabernacle that was packed with people. Utah’s Governor Herbert B. Maw, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President George Albert Smith, General Mark W. Clark and former Bear River High School Principal Clarence E. Smith, paid respects to the four fallen Borgstrom brothers.
The four soldiers were killed within six months of each other while serving in WWII. The Borgstrom’s are the only four star family recorded in the Second World War.
Today, some 71 years later, Tremonton City, family members and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are trying to erect a monument to mark the spot in the Tremonton Cemetery where the boys are buried side by side.
City councilwoman Diana Doutre said the city is helping with financing the monument and leaving the planning to the family.
Deborah Long, a daughter of the youngest son, Eldon, is representing the family.
Long said they don’t want to change the headstones, but they would like larger flags and some kind of monument or statue.
“It will be nice,” Long said. “My dad would love what we are doing; we’ve been working it for some time.”
Eldon’s five girls left. Their dad is gone, but all of her father’s family and their cousins from the families are around.
Long said the family always decorates the graves on Memorial Day.
“Our mother decorated graves until she couldn’t anymore, I took over and eventually my daughter will take over,” Long said. “Our mother has been gone for 11 years, we have a fabulous daughter that will see that the graves are decorated with respect when I am gone.”
“This is great story. We need to mark their graves so people can find them and learn their story,” she said.
Alben and Gunda Borgstrom of Thatcher had 10 children: seven sons and three daughters. The oldest son died at nine years old of a ruptured appendix.
The family all learned to have fun and work hard on the family farm in Thatcher. The Borgstroms faithfully attended church and the children all went to Bear River High School. They were a close family.
Five of the boys served in WWII, and four of them were shipped home after the war in coffins.
When Utah Senators Elbert Thomas, Abe Murdock and Governor Herbert Maw heard of the third son, Rolan’s death, they petitioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt to let Boyd and Rulan return home. Rulan died during the process.
The youngest, Eldon, was too young to serve.
In a 1998 interview, Wilma Hawkes, one of the Borgstrom sisters, said she heard the Western Union officer refused to deliver the fourth telegram reporting Rulon’s death, because he did not want “to see Mrs. Borgstrom faint in grief again.”
Clyde Borgstrom, 28, was the first to enlist. He joined the Marine Corps in 1940 before the attack on Pearl Harbor and was an Aviation Engineer. After surviving the battle at Guadalcanal, Clyde, a bulldozer operator, was clearing an area when a tree fell and killed him in March of 1944.
Elmer Leroy, 30, the oldest of the brothers entered the service in November of 1942 and was a medic with the Army’s 91st Infantry Division. He took a fatal bullet while working on a wounded comrade on Anzio beach in Italy in June 1944.
Twins Rolan and Rulon joined on the same day in 1943. Rolan was assigned duty with the air corps as a tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” bomber. Rulon went to the infantry.
On August 8, 1944, Rolan was severely injured while flying a mission over Germany and passed away.
On August 25, 1944, just over two weeks after his brother was killed, Rulon was reported missing in action.
Boyd was discharged from the Marine Corps in October of 1944. After he returned to the family farm in Thatcher, Boyd had a difficult time adjusting to life without his brothers.
The Defense Department enacted the Sole Survivor Policy in 1948, allowing service members whose siblings have been lost in battle to request an honorable discharge.
The four Borgstrom brothers were also memorialized in 1959 when the Ogden Army Reserve training center was named in their honor. In 2001, a memorial was dedicated in Tremonton bearing the images of the four brothers.