• Dennis McCaslin

Stone Gardens: From Yell County to Arlington National Cemetery - Henry Chester Bruton


In 1905, the community of Belleville was the second largest town in Yell County with a population of just over 500.


Hewn out of the rugged and rural landscape that had once been visited by Hernando de Soto and was home to bands of native American Osage, Caddo, and Cherokee tribes, Belleville was just thirty-eight years old on March 15, 1905 when Henry Chester Bruton was born to the union of Arthur and Martha Jane (McMullen) Bruton.

Little is known of Bruton's early life other than the fact that he must have excelled as a student. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1926, and in the 1930s studied electrical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School and the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a master's degree from the latter.


Bruton's first Naval assignments were aboard the battleships USS California and the USS Mississippi. By the beginning of World War II, Bruton had risen in ranks to become an admiral in the Navy, and he directed the fitting-out of the submarine Greenling,


The Greenling then sailed to the Pacific under Bruton's command. During the next year the submarine made four wartime patrols, sinking about 75,000 tons of enemy shipping, and earned a Presidential Unit Citation.


While under enemy attack, the Greenling sank a destroyer and severely damaged a tanker and an aircraft carrier.


Admiral. Bruton earned Navy Crosses on three of the patrols. The citations for these awards hailed his "extraordinary heroism, superb seamanship, inspiring leadership and outstanding devotion to duty."

In 1943, he was named a submarine division commander. Later in the war, he held staff and training posts.


He again sailed in harm's way during the Korean War. During 1952, he commanded the battleship Wisconsin. In February and March of that year, he conducted shore bombardments in Korea.


After the Korean conflict, his posts included a tour as director of naval communications.


From 1958 until retiring from active duty in 1960, he was communications-electronics director of the Joint Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the European Command.


During his career, Bruton's other decorations included four awards of the Legion of Merit.


Later, Bruton was named Chief of Staff of the Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet and Director of the Legislative Division of the Judge Advocate General's Corps.


During the Korean War, Bruton commanded the battleship USS Wisconsin; in early 1952, the vessel carried out shore bombardments.


After the war, Bruton became the Director of Naval Communications, and from 1958 until his retirement in 1960 he was communications-electronics director of the Joint Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the European Command.



After his retirement from active duty he worked for Collins Radio for four years until 1964 before becoming secretary-treasurer of the Armed Forces Relief and Benefit Association,


In 1966, Bruton became a consultant to the Military Benefit Association.


Bruton retired to Alexandria , Virginia where he lived out the remainder of his life.


He died of cancer in 1992 at the age of 87 and was buried with full military honors at he Arlington National Cemetery,


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