Gulf High School – Alumni Who Died in Military Service


Alumni Who Died in Military Service

Some of the research for this page was done by Gulf High School student Edward Tracy for his 2001 senior project. If you have additional information for this page, please email Archivist, West Pasco Historical Society. The page was last revised on June 2, 2021.

The table below shows alumni of Gulf High School who died during active military service.

Name Born GHS Class Died Place of Burial
BM 2C Chester Rufus McKay, USN Oct. 19, 1910 Feb. 18, 1942 Pine Hill Cemetery
Ernest Nettles (?) Aug. 22, 1914 July 24, 1944 Pine Hill Cemetery
Pvt. Elmer W. Brady, USA 1921 Sept. 5, 1944 Barrancas National Cemetery
TSgt. Robert Hall Colgan USAAF Sept. 4, 1924 1942 Feb. 3, 1945 Pine Hill Cemetery
Tec5 Goree J. Equevilley, USA Nov. 1, 1921 June 10, 1945 Hudson Cemetery
Maj. Frank T. Moore May 22, 1919 1937 Sept. 15, 1947 Arlington National Cemetery
Sgt. John Clock Perry Jr. Apr. 13, 1932 1951 Oct. 30, 1952 National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
George Datus Raymond 1949 Feb. 14, 1953
Roger D. Sigmon, USAF Dec. 2, 1936 1954 Jan. 17, 1957 Sylvan Abbey Cemetery, Clearwater
Arthur R. Moody III Aug. 8, 1943 Nov. 17, 1965 East Elfers Cemetery
Pfc. William Alfred Hadsock, USMC Feb. 10, 1949 1967 Aug. 18, 1968 Anclote Cemetery
Pfc. Felton Roger Fussell, USMC Nov. 8, 1950 1968 June 6, 1969 Meadowlawn Cemetery
AN Trevor Wayne Maki, USN Apr. 6, 1978 1997 April 14, 2000 Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell
Cpl. Joshua D. Harris, USMC Aug. 7, 1982 2001 Jan. 22, 2004 Jenkins, Ky.
Sgt. Michael D. Rowe, USA Mar. 29, 1982 2001 Mar. 28, 2006 Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell
SSgt. Brian Peter Sawyer, USA Nov. 5, 1985 2004 Feb. 7, 2019 Heinz Funeral Home & Cremation, Inverness, FL

Additional Information

The 1946 Gulf High School yearbook is dedicated as follows:

To those who have given their lives in the line of duty for their country in World War II, we proudly dedicate this annual.

  • Chester Rufus McKay – Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean February 18, 1942
  • Ernest Nettles – Died July 24, 1944 from Wounds Received on Italian Front
  • Robert H. Colgan – 29th Bombing Mission over Germany February 3, 1945
  • Ralph DeCubellis – Saipan June, 1945

Photographs of Chester McKay and photographs of his parents are here and here and here. McKay attended Gulf High School prior to his enlistment in the Navy in 1928. His name appears on a memorial at the old Dade City court house.

According to U. S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Goree J. Equevilley enlisted on Juy 20, 1942. His educational level was three years of high school. His civil occupation was listed as cartographer and his marital status was single, without dependents. His name appears on the memorial at the old Dade City court house. The 1930 census shows his family living in Precinct 13, Hudson. Goree was age 8. Parents: Romaine F. and Dora M. Sisters: Shirley, 15; and Astrid, 2 yrs, 10 months. According to Brenda Knowles, he was not killed in action.

U. S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, show Elmer W. Brady enlisted on Apr. 22, 1943. His educational level was shown as one year of high school, civil occupation was cartographer. He was shown as married. U. S. Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006, shows that Brady was interred at Barrancas National Cemetery on Sept. 13, 1949, five years after his death. This suggests that he may have been first buried overseas. The 1930 census shows Elmer W. Brady, age 9, in Hudson in the household of Clarence W., 33, and Emma J. Brady, with a younger sister, Esther, 6. Clarence is reported to be a salt water fisherman. The name Elmer W. Brady appears on the memorial at the old Dade City court house.

According to U. S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Robert H. Colgan enlisted on April 17, 1943. His educational level was shown as one year of college. He was shown as a student, single without dependents. According to Brenda Knowles, he died in an airplane crash. The name of Robert H. Colgan does not appear on the memorial at the old Dade City court house.

Moore died in a training accident involving a B-17 over Maryland. Nine of the ten persons on the plane perished. The New Port Richey Press of Sept. 19, 1947, reported that he had died on Monday and that he was 28 years old. He had served in World War II, participating in a number of bombing missions over Japan. A 1942 newspaper article indicated he was the son of Mrs. and Mrs. Reggie L. Moore of Elfers.

John Perry was killed near Triangle Hill, Korea.

Ernest Nettles was the son of David Nettles. According to a contempporary newspaper account, he died of tuberculosis at an army hospital in Denver. He had been in Italy and was returned to the U. S. because of his health. His name appears on a memorial at the old Dade City court house. Nettles may have attended Gulf High School, as he is included in the 1946 yearbook dedication. However, U. S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, show his educational level as grammar school (and show his civil occupation as Physicist). He is shown as single, without dependents. He enlisted on Feb. 20, 1941.

It is believed that Ralph DeCubellis did not attend Gulf High School, even though he is included in the 1946 yearbook dedication. Several Internet web pages give his date of death as Oct. 25, 1944.

Maki died one day after a training accident aboard the USS Enterprise which took place on April 13, 2000.

Harris died when a helicopter crashed during a training mission at Camp Pendleton, California. Harris had previously served in Iraq. He enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after graduation, on Sept. 6, 2001.

Rowe died in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated.

Capt. John C. Workizer, who taught at Dade City High School and, according to his obituary, also at Gulf High School, died July 16, 1944, in an evacuation hospital in Normandy from wounds received in action.

George Datus Raymond, who left Gulf High School to join the Navy, died at age 22 in the crash of a National Airlines DC-6 which was lost during bad weather over the Gulf of Mexico. Raymond was on leave, returning to his base in San Diego after visiting his parents. Forty-six persons died in the crash.

Roger Sigmon, age 20, was one of 12 crewmen who died in the crash of an Air Force weather plane near Faribanks, Alaska, in 1957.

Arthur Moody may not have attended GHS.

PFC Felton R. Fussell (1950-1969) Killed in action in Vietnam June 6, 1969

PFC William A. Hadsock

Student Researches Gulf Alumni Killed in Military Service

YNMC (SS) Edward R. White, USN Ret from American Legion Paradise Post, and Edward Tracy

Edward M. Tracy, a senior at Gulf High School, conducted research to find the names of former Gulf students who were killed in military service as part of his senior project in 2001. He also conducted a service in memory of those former students at the school. About 30 people attended the service, including family members of some of the deceased servicemen.

Tracy was assisted by Carol Pearson, the Principal of Marchman Technical School and a Gulf alumna, and his mentor, Brenda Knowles of the Pasco County Office of Veterans Services. He visited the grave sites of the deceased veterans who are buried locally, and photographed their grave markers for part of his report.

Edward Tracy with Reenie Hadsock, sister of William Hadsock, and members of her family

Tim Fussell, Edward Tracy, Jackie Mathison, and Faye Shorter, siblings of Felton Fussell

A Family Remembers Their Marine

This article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on May 20, 2000.


NEW PORT RICHEY — He was Roger to anyone who knew him. He went to a far-off place to fight for his country, and he didn’t come back.

So history will remember him by his full name. It is on the Pasco County Veterans Memorial, five names down on the south-facing panel. Etched in stone.


His family will be at the west Pasco Government Center at noon today, when the memorial is dedicated. They will feel a sense of pride, and a sense of loss, for an all-American boy from Elfers.

In June 1968, 18-year-old Felton Roger Fussell and his friend Jack Mathison had just graduated from Gulf High School. Mathison was Fussell’s nephew, the son of his oldest sister, Jackie Mathison

“They just came home one day and said “Hey, I joined the Marines,’” recalled Roger’s younger brother, Tim. “Mama was quite surprised.”

It was 1968, and America was in turmoil. The war in Vietnam was nearing its peak, and so were the anti-war demonstrations.

The two young men had talked about joining the service when they got out of high school. They believed it was the right thing to do.

Their enlistment was front-page news in the twice-weekly New Port Richey Press. They joined up on what was known as the Buddy System, with a guarantee they would be together.

“The two young men were to have been sworn in at Jacksonville Friday where they went for their physicals,” the story said. “They will go on active duty at Parris Island, S.C., in September for eight weeks intensive boot camp training.”

Fussell’s parents, two of his sisters and his brother Tim made the trip to Parris Island for his graduation from basic training.

“We were proud; we were all proud,” Faye Shorter said of her brother, who received a marksmanship award at boot camp. “I remember Daddy watching him up on that stage.”

Fussell and Jack Mathison were sent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Mathison was stricken with spinal meningitis there, so Fussell had to go to war without his friend.

But first he came back to Pasco.

Tim was 14 then, and he remembers the homecoming.

“That was the last time I saw him,” said Tim, now a district chief for Pasco Fire-Rescue.

A year to the day after his high school graduation, Pfc. Fussell was part of the 3rd Marine Division, operating in the central highlands of Quang Tri Province. His squad came under mortar fire.

The 19-year-old rifleman dived for cover, but he didn’t make it.

“The first thing you think about is a bit of selfishness because you lost your brother,” Tim Fussell said. “Anger was one of the biggest feelings I had. Angry that he went over there and didn’t come back.”

Shorter said she was never prepared for the news.

“I thought if anyone could make it back, Roger and Jack could make it back,” she said. “They were tough. I really did think that.”

After recovering, Mathison followed Fussell to Vietnam and was wounded twice before coming home. He is now a firefighter in South Carolina.

More than 30 years later, Fussell’s sisters, Jackie Mathison, Shorter and Myra Gulbrandsen, and his brother, Tim, still live in Elfers. Roger is buried nearby in Meadowlawn Cemetery.

A few miles away sits the memorial, 72,000 pounds of concrete, granite and steel, with Fussell’s name on it. There are 71 other names as well, all Pasco residents killed in the nation’s wars. Nine are from Vietnam, five from Korea, 39 from World War II and 19 from World War I.

Jack Kinney, chairman of the Pasco County Veterans Memorial committee, said three years have gone into gathering donations and building the $120,000 monument. The last two months were for construction.

Today’s dedication ceremony will include a military bugler, a rifle salute and a speech by Rear Adm. Thomas W. Steffens, director of the Navy’s Intelligence and Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base.

“It’s something that the county owed the veterans of this county who died,” said Kinney, a Vietnam veteran himself. “You’ve got something that is sitting in front of the county building being seen by hundreds of people every day. It’s a county’s salute to its own.”

“I’m glad they’ve got something,” said Shorter, Fussell’s sister. “We don’t want him to be forgotten.”

Just below Roger Fussell’s name on the memorial is another name familiar to the family: Arthur R. Moody III. He was the uncle of Jody Fussell, recently divorced from Tim.

Moody, a sergeant in one of the most celebrated units of the Vietnam War, the 1st Air Cavalry, was killed by ground fire at the age of 22.

Everybody knew Moody as “Butch,” said Jody Fussell, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her uncle, who died when she was 7.

“He has been my hero all my life,” she said. “I remember him like it was yesterday.”

Jody Fussell wears her uncle’s unit patch on her jacket. In 1975, she followed her uncle into the Army.

“He was a hero, and I wanted to be just like him,” she said.

The memorial being dedicated this weekend makes her proud, Jody Fussell said.

“We never forget,” she said. “It’s nice that somebody else remembers too.”

Letter to the Editor (2000)

This letter appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on May 31, 2000.

Editor: It was a cold Nov. 25, 1939, on Washington Street here in New Port Richey. My father and I were sitting in the living room waiting for Dr. Brookman to arrive. Mother was in labor with my little brother. Mrs. Rabbit, our elderly next door neighbor, was with her trying to help. The baby was delivered, Dr. Brookman finally arrived; I don’t know in which order as I was only 5 years old. But trust me, you remember quite a lot when your mother is having a baby in the front bedroom.

After a while I got to sit on the side of my mother’s bed to meet my new brother. Dr. Brookman asked about the name. “Bobby” I said, “His name is going to be Bobby.” Dr. Brookman patted me on the head and said, “Okay, Joanie.”

The reason I insisted we name him Bobby was my folks had these friends, the Colgans, who owned an orange grove near Congress Avenue. They had a son whom they called Bobby. He was 12, I was 5, yet I had a big crush on him.

My brother was called Bobby by our parents, grandmother, relatives, neighbors and anyone who knows us. One day he came home from school and I saw “Edward Rees” on his school paper. “Why do you have Daddy’s name on your paper?” I asked. “Because it’s my name,” he replied. “Is not,” I said. “Is too,” he said. That went on a while. It was then I learned his name was not Bobby, but Edward Nelson Rees Jr.

One of our cousins in Ohio named his son Robert, after him, as they thought that was his real name. People who know him in other stages of his life call him by different names. Bobby by the family, Eddie by some, Bob by some. Others know him by Pee Wee because of his high school baseball ability and his love for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His Holiday barber shop has a collection of baseball memorabilia including a signed picture of Pee Wee Reese.

Last week, he came in my office, put the front page of the May 20 Pasco Times on my desk. Listed with those who died in service, under World War II, was Robert H. Colgan.

“Is that who I’m named after?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. Robert “Bobby” Colgan was shot down in a bombing mission over Germany. He was 20 years old.

—Joan Rees, New Port Richey

SSgt. Brian Sawyer.

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