Harold J. Brogan graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland in 1939. He met June Payne at a dance, they fell madly in love and were married in 1941. Harold then started working at ESCO, and Harold and June bought a little house at 4510 NE Holman Street in Portland.
Then Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. In 1942 Harold enlisted in the US Army at Ft. Lewis and shipped out of Portland for training at Fort Mackill in North Carolina. He wanted to be a paratrooper and was trained with the 508th parachute infantry. Harold returned to Portland in March 1943 on furlough to be with June when their daughter Sharon was born. In June 1943, June and Sharon went to North Carolina and spent the summer with Harold before he was shipped to Ireland and England to prepare for the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. After parachuting into France, Harold was a Staff Sargeant commanding over 60 men making its way west on the Contentin Peninsula to near the town of la Huy-du-Puits. On July 4, 1944, attacking Hill 95, Harold was severely wounded and died the next day.
June, then a young mother to 16 month old Sharon, received a notice that Harold was missing in action in July 1944. Previousily, Harold had been listed as missing in action when he first jumped into Normandy, so she prayed that would be the case again. June continued to write to him every day until she received a telegram in September telling that he had died on July 4, 1944. Fifty years later, in 1994, while visiting the US Military cemetery in St. Laurent, France for the first time, a Belgian monk came up to June and said, ''I thank you and my country thanks you for your great sacrifice."
• Harold’s parents were Irish immigrants. His brothers were born in Brooklyn, N,Y., but WWI broke out before Harold was born in 1921. His father Patrick Brogan, being a British subject, was called to join the Canadian Army, and the family moved to Niagara Falls, Canada, where Harold was born. When WWI ended Patrick worked in the coal mines until they moved back to Brooklyn in 1921 after Harold was born. Harold had the opportunity to sing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral as young boy. Patrick worked in the tunnels until black lung disease halted his working ability. He had brothers that lived in Portland so they moved to Oregon.
• At ESCO, Harold was popular and his work friends all called him “Irish”. He and his older brother, Vin, 14 years apart, were best buddies. They did everything together, including dances. One of the dances is where Harold met June.
• When Harold enlisted at Fort Lewis, he wrote, “I enlisted for 2 reasons: #1. to prove that I am a real Yank (June’s father often said that their heritage had a whole lot of Yankee); #2. I joined the paratroopers to make my family proud."
• His brother, Vin, enlisted in the US Navy and served in the South Pacific, where he later contracted tuberculosis.
• Harold was always the first man over the hedgerows; he always led his men on the charge. He was a paratrooper and was proud to fight for America. He loved the army except that it kept him away from the love of his life, June. He missed her so much that he rarely left camp on leave. Harold went through the ranks quickly to achieve the rank of Staff Sergeant. Harold applied for U.S. citizenship but was rejected even though he was raised almost entirely in the United States and was recommended by his army superiors.
According to William Call, one of his fellow sergeants, Harold was a good leader, brave, and a straight arrow that always kept his word. Hill 95 was the last hill to be taken in Normandy. If Harold had survived that battle, he would have survived the war. He always told June he had too much to live for.
Thank you Sharon Brogan Kearsley
for your sacrifice.
1994, the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy and Harold Brogan's death, June and Sharon visit Harold's gravesite for the first time. "The man in this photo seemed to appear out of nowhere. He came to Mother, put his hands on her shoulders, embraced her, kissed her on both cheeks and said, 'I thank you and my country thanks you for your great sacrifice.' He said he was a monk with a group from Belgium. Mother felt he was her angel. It was the first time anyone had ever publicly thanked her."
After 4 years of searching for WWII veterans who were in the 82nd Airborne/508th Infantry, Harold Brogan's grandson Corey found one of the sargeants who was in Harold's platoon, William Call. Call was with Harold when he died. Corey interviewed him in 2003. A couple of weeks after the interview, Corey received a small packet in the mail. The items were wrapped in a very thin leather pouch which Harold carried inside his jacket, near his heart that carried photographs of Harold Brogan's wife June, his daughter Sharon, and other family members.
please click on plaque above for link to page on the 82nd Airborne Monument, north of la Haye du Puits
Sharon Brogan Kearsley, Harold Brogan's daughter, and Stuart Emmons looking at photographs of Harold Brogan and his family.
May 27, 2016
HAROLD BROGAN'S LEATHER POUCH CONTENTS on his body when he died. Given to Harold's family by William Call in 2003.
Sharon Kearsley, Harold Brogan's daughter, at Harold Brogan's gravesite, July 4, 1994
June, Harold Brogan's widow, at Brogan's gravesite, July 4, 1994
Harold Brogan (above front) with his paratrooper unit before D-Day.
Page 37, LIFE magazine, June 5, 1944.
Army letter to Harold's mother Mary Brogan informing of internment of remains of Harold J. Brogan at the U.S. Military Cemetery. St. Laurent, France.
June (head bowed), Sharon, and Belgian monk at Harold Brogan's grave.
June and Sharon
Harold and June
"To Irish, From Jeep"
Harold and June
82nd Airborne monument at the base of Hill 95, captured July 4 - 6, 1944.
4510 NE Holman Street, Portland (May 28, 2016), the 1925 house Harold and June Brogan bought in 1942.
Harold J. Brogan c.1942
Harold and June Brogan, 1941 at their wedding.
Harold, June and Sharon Brogan, Fort Mackill, NC, summer 1943.
portion of the North Courtyard memorial wall at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland
LIFE magazine cover, June 5, 1944.
The day before D-Day.
Harold J. Brogan
Unit: 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment (Company B)
Rank: Staff Sargeant
Date of Death: July 5, 1944
Gravesite: Normandy American Cemetery, France, Plot D, Row 7, Grave 35
Husband of June Payne Brogan (later Ramsey) and daughter of Sharon Brogan Kearsley