Name: Connally Oran Briles
Given Name: Connally Oran
Change Date: 30 AUG 2010
1 _MDCL In late November 2006, Con was diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzeimer's.
Birth: 10 DEC 1919 in Idabel, McCurtain County, Oklahoma 1
Death: 9 FEB 2010 in Auburn, Lee County, Alabama 2
Burial: Shannon Rose Hill Memorial Park, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas
Except as specifically noted below, the following information on Connally Oran Briles is based on his curriculum vitae from Tuskegee Institute, Alabama; on information that he provided in writing to his niece Susan Marie Briles Kniebes on September 11, 2003, and on October 22, 2003; and on information provided by Con's older brother (and Susan's father) Worthie Elwood Briles:
Con was born in Idabel, Oklahoma, on December 10, 1919, during the year that Con's parents, Worthie Harwood ("Jack" to his friends, "Dad" or "Daddy" to his children, and "Pappy" to his grandchildren) Briles and Leona Hays Connally Briles, and their first child Elwood had moved to Idabel so that Pappy could work with his father, Enoch Elwood ("Pawpaw" to his grandchildren) Briles, in the auto repair and paint shop run by Pawpaw and his younger brother Wilbur (born in 1884, died in 1951). As mentioned in the Note for Enoch Elwood Briles elsewhere in these Family Tree Maker files, Pappy didn't get along well with Pawpaw's younger brother Wilbur so the family returned to the Fort Worth, Texas, area not long after Con's birth.
For a number of stories on Elwood and Con's childhood experiences as recalled by Elwood, see the Note for Worthie Elwood Briles elsewhere in these Family Tree Maker files. Also see Elwood's Note for descriptions of the various places Pappy and Leona and their children lived in the Fort Worth area. Some of Con's childhood remembrances follow:
"Across the road from the front of the '5-Acre Place' a chicken snake swallowed a toad frog. Either Elwood or I ran to the garage and obtained a garden hoe. We chopped the snake into about two or three pieces, the frog jumped out about a foot and a half, and died. Of course, the snake died too!"
"Elwood and I helped Daddy plant some peanuts about a foot or better in the ground and covered them and then stepped on the spot to mash the soil down. That Sunday, we went to Italy [where Pappy's relatives lived] for most of the day. While we were gone, the crows came and took every one of the peanuts, shells and all." On December 2 5, 2003, Elwood said that he recalled that the peanuts were planted about an inch deep and about a foot apart.
"We had a cow (part Guernsey). She would kick about once a month at whomever was milking her. Mama named her 'Madge.' When Madge did kick me, I usually tumbled out the barn door (about 7 feet away), taking with me the milk pail, usually 1/3 or 1/2 full, and the stool."
"When Jack David was somewhere between 1-1/2 and 2 years old, a calf about a week old moved its bowels. Jack found some toilet paper (or what he took to be toilet paper) hanging on the lower part of the hog or sheep wire fence. When Jack used the paper to wipe the calf's rear end, the calf kicked Jack in belly, knocking him down. Jack did not cry, but could not understand why the calf kicked him. I went into the cow lot and picked him up."
"This is a story about a large brown draft mule (really a hinny, since he was the result of a cross between a horse stallion and a jenny or female donkey). [A mule, on the other hand, is the result of a cross between a horse mare and a male donkey.] Elwood was harassing the brown mule by walking under him to get to the other side. He asked me if I wanted to walk under the mule too. I said 'No' that I was afraid to. So later the same day Elwood asked 'Why don't you get on the brown mule's back?' I refused to do that, too. After having used the mule team (the brown one and a white one) to cultivate corn, we crossed back over the branch (a small creek), I decided that maybe I would see if the brown mule would let me ride him. Elwood was half asleep looking at the ground. First I got on the white mule because we knew that she would let us ride her. I then crawled over to the back of the brown mule. He cut loose bucking. After about two or three high bucks, I was thrown off. As I was flying through the air, I relaxed and landed on my shoulders in sort of a ball. I was not hurt at all." On December 25, 2003, Elwood recalled that one of the mules was brown and that the other one was black.
Con graduated from Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1939.
In April 1937, before he graduated from high school, Con joined the Texas National Guard's 36th Infantry Division, Artillery Battery "B," which was mobilized on November 25, 1940. This was before the United States entered into World War II, which was in December 1941. Con and Elwood both joined the Texas National Guard, but Elwood had to drop out when he transferred to the University of Texas from North Texas Agricultural College (NTAC). (NTAC was a branch of Texas A&M University, which was a college rather than a university in the 1940s.) While in the National Guard, Con and Elwood were in the 6-in. Howitzer Field Artillery Battery. Con had completed 1 year at NTAC (where he was pursuing a "pre-veterinary" field of study) when his National Guard unit was mobilized.
Con spent his first 2 years on active duty as a Buck Sergeant (three stripes) in charge of the fire control instruments for the Battery Commander, a Captain. (A Field Artillery Battery is equivalent to an Infantry Company; both of which are commanded by a Captain, who has two silver bars.)
Con then applied to the Army Air Force by taking an exam to qualify for admittance into flight instruction. He passed the exam and was accepted into flight training. But first he had to go to "classification" in Nashville, Tennessee, where potential pilots were tested to determine if they had the aptitude for pilots or should be bombardiers or navigators instead. Con was successfully classified as a potential pilot. His actual flight training included four phases:
Phase One: This phase consisted of 2 or 3 months of preflight training or ground school at Santa Ana Army Air Force Base in California. The airfield was built on what had originally been a bean field.
Phase Two: This phase of Primary Flight Training, which Con recalled lasted about 3 months, was taught by civilian flight instructors at Fort Stockton in west Texas. Primary Flight Training was taught in the Stearman P-17 biplane (double wings) with an open cockpit and two tandem slots for pilots, with the student pilot in the rear cockpit and the instructor pilot in the front. Like most biplanes, Stearmans were "taildraggers," which means that their nose was higher than their tail and that they had two front wheels and just one, smaller rear wheel. If the pilot of a taildragger doesn't land carefully, he can end up in a ground loop with a wing touching the ground. Con reported that they were taught to land the Stearman P-17s and the AT9s (Phase 4) planes using a "three-point landing," which means all three wheels were supposed to hit the runway at the same time.
Phase Three: This phase of Basic Flight Training took place in Pecos, also in west Texas, and was taught by military instructors in BT-13s, which were planes with a canopy and with places for two pilots (student in front seat and instructor in rear seat). Con recalled that this plane was easier to land than the Stearman because it had a wider distance between its front wheels. Nonetheless, several students in his Basic Flight Training unit were killed while flying the BT-13s.
Phase Four: This final Advanced Flight Training phase took place at Williams Field in Chandler, Arizona. This last phase of flight training used the AT9, a small twin-engine aircraft which, like the earlier training planes, had seats for two pilots. However, this time the instructor and the student sat side by side. Con said that they had to land this plane, like the Stearman P-17, with a "three-point landing," which would indicate that it too was a taildragger. In this case, Con said that the plane had two large front wheels and a "very small tail wheel." In a phone conversation with his niece Susan Kniebes on September 17, 2003, Con recalled that the metal parts of the plane would get so hot sitting on the tarmac at Williams Field that you had to be careful not to actually burn yourself on them!
Some of the trainees in Con's unit who successfully completed all four phases of flight training, including Con, were then sent to Greenville, South Carolina, to learn to fly the twin-engine medium B-25 bombers, the airplane that they were to fly into combat. Con pointed out that the B-25 had a tricycle landing gear, which meant that it had a smaller nose wheel (that was, nonetheless, larger than the tail wheels of the training aircraft) and two larger rear wheels, which were under the body of the plane rather than attached to its tail. This landing gear arrangement made the B-25s easier to land than the taildraggers that Con had flown during training. [Note by Susan Kniebes: The B-25 was the same airplane used during the Dolittle raid on Tokyo, Yokohama, and Yokosuka, Japan, in April 1942. These planes had what was called a "Tokyo Tank" above the bomb bay. This tank held extra fuel. For the Dolittle raid, the planes had to take off from aircraft carriers.]
The following account of Con's experiences flying the B-25 in combat is quoted directly from the handwritten information that he sent his niece Susan Marie Briles Kniebes in September and October 2003, almost 52 years after he left the United States for his overseas assignment during World War II:
"I went overseas in January 1944. We picked up our plane (a "D" model B-25) with a full crew of seven men. We could not open our order envelope until we were 1 hour east of Florida on our first stage to Puerto Rico for the night at an Air Force Base. (Some of us had orders to go to various locations in Europe; others of the group were sent to India. I was initially sent to Italy.] We flew only in the daytime and spent the night at each stop. From Puerto Rico, we flew to British Guiana [now Guyana] on the northern coast of South America. Our next stop was Belém in the northern part of Brazil. From Belém, we flew to Natal, Brazil. Our next stop was Ascension Island [a small 34-sq.-mi. island in the South Atlantic]. We had about 1 hour of fuel left. We had a Tokyo tank sitting above the bomb bay. [Note by Susan Kniebes: This was the same extra fuel tank installed on the B-25s that took part in the Dolittle raid.] Our next stop was Roberts Field in Liberia, where we spent the night. We would add fuel at all stops.
"Our next stop was Dakar in Senegal. Our next stop was Casablanca in Morocco. We flew over Mauritania and the Sahara desert. I never saw so much sand. When we flew over Marrakech, we knew we were close to Casablanca; there we stayed for 10 days. I suppose to pick up some French! From Casablanca we flew to Constantine, Algeria. There we stayed about a week to 10 days. We gave up the B-25 [that they had flow over from Florida] and rode in a C47 to Paestum, a small town in southern Italy [on the coast south of Naples]. I started flying missions as a copilot [on B-25s] in 3 or 4 days.
"After a month to 6 weeks, the whole 57th Bomb Wing of which I was a part moved to the east coast of Corsica. (A Bomb Wing is commanded by a Brigadier or 1 star General.) I flew the rest of my missions from Corsica. When we arrived and were assigned to the 321 Bomb Group, we were to fly 50 missions. I flew 65, and some flew 70.
"I came back to the U.S. in November 1944. I got home to Fort Worth for Christmas and the Battle of the Bulge had just started in Germany and France." His youngest sister, Jeanie Briles Cookston, says that, because Con was safely home, Christmas 1944 was "the best Christmas I ever had!"
In handwritten notes that Con sent Susan in October 2003 in response to a comment his sister Jeanie Briles Cookston had made about one of Con's R&R stints on the Isle of Capri, Con explained the following concerning his R&R experiences: He was sent to Capri only once and to Rome at least twice. Each time Con went on R&R, four or five men from his unit went, too. He said that there were always two of them assigned to a hotel room.
Although the September 2003 handwritten information that Con provided on his World War II experiences did not say so, he received one Distinguished Flying Cross and six Air Medals for his World War II service in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
During a phone conversation with his niece Susan Kniebes on September 17, 2003, and in handwritten information that he provided on October 22, 2003, Con added the following additional information about his experiences overseas during World War II:
· When his unit arrived in Paestrum, Italy, only a few days after the Nazis had only been run out of nearby Naples.
· He was promoted from copilot (right seat) to command pilot (left seat) after he had flown about 15 missions as a B-25 copilot. He flew "copilot" about three times after he officially became a pilot "to check out pilots that would 'cop-out' when the anti-aircraft fire became rough, and some who claimed that their engines were not working right and they wanted to turn back."
· Con recalled that he received his first Air Medal for keeping his plane on course to the target and successfully dropping its bombs even though the plane was pretty shot up. He said, "The engineer said the plane could keep flying, so I did." He said that it "was a rough mission." He doesn't remember the specific reason he got the Distinguished Flying Cross but supposed it was for "going to hell and coming back alive." He recalled that he was a copilot when he received his first Air Medal and a pilot when he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
· Con recalled that once his plane came back with over 1000 holes in it, but that he knew about a plane flown by a fellow pilot came back with over 2000 holes in it! The pilot of the 2000-hole plane had been on a mission over Anzio, Italy, just before Con joined the squadron. The holes were from ack-ack fire, which was the "nickname" given to anti-aircraft fire. Con said that the anti-aircraft guns shot 88-mm shells that broke into pieces when they reached the approximate altitude of the aircraft they were targeting. It was these pieces that caused all of the damage. Con added that the same guns could also be used against tanks.
· Con said that the 321 Bomb Group of which he was a part flew most of its missions over Nazi-held areas in northern Italy, but that they also flew on some targets in southern France, where they were targeting Nazi ships in harbors, and in southern Austria.
Con remained in the service until 1946, serving as a contact and flight check pilot and as a member of the Standardization Board for flying procedures. After the War, he remained in the Air Force Reserve, rising to rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He and his wife Jewell frequently attend reunions of the airmen with whom he served during World War II.
Page 604 of "The Fighting Men of Texas" (published in 1948 by the Historical Publishing Company of Dallas, Texas) gives the following brief account of Con's World War II experiences below a photograph of him in his Army Air Force uniform:
"Lt. Connally O. Briles, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Briles, 3435 E. Rosedale, Fort Worth, Texas, was born December 10, 1919. Husband of Jewel Boyd Briles, of Hendersonville, N. C. Attended North Texas Agricultural College, Arlington, Texas, and volunteered for service Nov. 26, 1940 [actually the day that Con's Texas National Guard unit was mobilized]; assigned to 36th Div. Received basic training in Texas and Arizona. Lt. Briles served overseas from Feb. 4, 1944, to Dec. 3, 1944, in the ETO Area [ETO=European Theater of Operations], battles of Rome, Po Valley and Southern France, and also served with the 12th Air Force in Corsica. Awarded DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] Air Medal-6 Clusters, and Distinguished Unit Badge. Stationed with Army Air Force, Chanute Field, Ill."
The same page of "The Fighting Men of Texas" that contained Con's photo and brief account of his war experiences also contained the photos and war experiences of his brother-in-law, James D. Spencer, and his brothers, W. Elwood Briles and Van G. Briles.
When asked how he and Jewell (Margaret Jewell Boyd) met, Con provided the following information:
"It was a 'buddy' of a pilot in my stage (just graduated from flying school as pilots). We were in the same barracks. Each pilot had a single room. He met a student of Ferman University in Greenville, S.C. Our air base was 2 or 3 or more miles out of town. The girl he met and Jewell were best friends during the last 2 or 3 years of grade school and during high school. Jewell came down from Hendersonville, N.C.-about 40 miles from (northeast of) Greenville, S.C. Jewell came down three or four times, and I went to her (Jewell's) home once and met her parents.
"Several of us left for overseas into combat missions [as described above]. At about 1 hour from Natal, Brazil, out over the Atlantic I thought of her and I suppose fell in love with her. I wrote that I wanted to talk about marriage when I got back, if I did [get back]. She wrote that we would have to talk about it then.
"When I returned to the States in Miami, Florida, I went to Greenville, S.C., and we became engaged. She was reluctant to some extent. In 7 months, I got leave from Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois, and we were married in Hendersonville, N.C., on June 1, 1945." [Note by Susan Kniebes: I remember sitting next to Aunt Jewell and admiring her engagement and wedding ring when she and Con were living in College Station, Texas, at the same time that we were from 1948 through 1951.]
Con received a B.S. in Animal Sciences from Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas, in 1949. In 1951, he received an M.S. in Poultry Science from the same university. In 1956, he received a Ph.D. in Genetics, with a minor in Zoology, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
On November 25, 1954, Con and Jewell's first son, Scott Conrad, was born in Madison.
From 1955 through 1957, Con was an Assistant Professor in charge of the Poultry Research Unit of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station in Homer, Louisiana. His research there involved environmental and management problems using various stock and strain-crosses of domestic chickens possessing different genetic backgrounds.
From 1957 through 1958, he was an Animal Geneticist (GS-12) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. In Beltsville, he was the assistant to the chief of the breeding section of the Poultry Research Branch of the Animal Husbandry Research Division, working with experiments involving inbreeding, hybridization, and cross-breeding of domestic chickens.
On November 29, 1957, Con and Jewell's second son, Timothy Harwood, was born in Hyattsville, Maryland.
From 1958 through 1963, Con was Director of the Blood Group Laboratory of the Research Department of Arbor Acres Farm, Inc. (a commercial poultry breeder) in Glastonbury, Connecticut. There he was responsible for an immunogenetics program in domestic chickens that established the mode of inheritance of red blood cell antigens and determined the association of blood group genes and genotypes with economic and other quantitative characteristics.
From 1963 through 1969, Con was an Associate Professor of Animal Science and Genetics at McGill University in Quebec, Canada. He had a split appointment there: He was on both the Faculty of Agriculture in the Department of Animal Science at the MacDonald College of McGill University and on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the Genetics Department in McGill University. While at McGill, Con taught one-fourth to one-third of the time (including teaching a graduate course in Immunogenetics), did genetic and immunogenetic research, obtained outside grants to support all of his research as well as the research of graduate and postgraduate students working under his supervision, directed undergraduate students' research projects, and counseled students.
Between August 1969 and 1970, Con was a Professor of Biology and Animal Science at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (now Tuskegee University). With a split appointment between the Department of Biology, to which about three-quarters of his time was devoted, and the Department of Agricultural Sciences, to where the remaining quarter of his time was spent, Con taught basic genetics, advanced genetics and immunogenetics, and plant and animal breeding; advised undergraduate and graduate seminars in biological sciences; and conducted immunogenetic research involving domestic chickens and two species of quail.
Con and his family lived in the town of Tuskegee, Alabama, from August 1969 through May 1, 1970, when they moved to nearby Auburn, Alabama, where Con and Jewell were still living as of May 2006.
From July 1971 through August 1972, Con took a leave of absence from Tuskegee Institute to work as an FAO Expert for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at Karachi University in Karachi, Pakistan. Specifically, he was an Animal Production Officer whose primary responsibility was to help the students at Karachi University and local chicken producers with the breeding chickens and incubation of chicken eggs. This involved teaching a special course in animal breeding to senior students, advising two graduate students working on research for an M.Sc. degree, developing alternative breeding programs, cooperating with other experts in the areas of managing heat stress and disease resistance, developing ways to hatch eggs and chicks using both simple and complex equipment, setting up a research laboratory for breeding and incubation and training his counterparts at the University to conduct research there, and advising producers running both small flocks and commercial-type operations in the production of chickens for eggs, meat, and both eggs and meat.
The United Nations had originally wanted Con to work for them in Pakistan for 2-1/2 years, but Tuskegee Institute would only give him 2 years of leave. Con's wife, Jewell, and Con's and Jewell's two boys, Scott and Tim, accompanied Con to Pakistan. The boys attended a special school for Americans working in Karachi. Con's family has a lot of interesting stories to tell about their experiences living in Pakistan.
At one point during their stay, they took a vacation to Singapore, where they visited with a young professor whom Con knew from McGill University. They also visited with a former graduate student of Con's, who came down from Malaysia on the train and spent 2 days with Con, Jewell, and the boys, showing them around, taking them to eat at special places, and generally showing them the sites.
While Con was an FAO Expert on the breeding and incubation of chickens for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.N. also sent him to Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; and Tehran, Iran.
In the end, the family only stayed in Pakistan for a little over a year because Con felt that it would have been wasting his time to have stayed longer.
From 1969 until he retired in September 30, 1990 (when he was 71), Con returned to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he was a Professor of Animal Science in the Institute's Department of Agricultural Sciences. He taught poultry science, plant and animal breeding, and immunogenetics; coached the poultry judging team; advised graduate and undergraduate students; was in charge of the Institute's Poultry Research Farm; and was the Principal Investigator for a considerable number of poultry research projects.
Con belonged to the following professional societies:
American Genetics Association
Genetics Society of America
International Society for Animal Blood Group Research
Poultry Science Association
World's Poultry Science Association
While Con was at the Tuskegee Institute between 1969 and 1970, he was the Secretary-Treasurer for Sigma Xi and a member of the judging panel for the Sigma Xi student seminar competition.
His community activities included participating in poultry judging in Tuskegee and Lowndes Counties, Alabama, helping with 4-H activities, and giving lectures to farm groups.
Con authored or coauthored 40 professional publications between 1950 and 1984. Some of these papers were presented outside of the United States in Winnipeg, Canada; Montreal, Canada; Toronto, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; Dublin, Ireland; Rio de Janeiro Brazil; and Hamburg, Germany.
AUBURN, AL-Connally O. Briles, 90, passed Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Services will be private. Born in Idabel, OK, the son of the late Worthie Harwood and Leona Hays Connally. Mr. Briles served as an officer in the Army Air Forces 1942-1946 and retired a Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserve in 1964. He received his B.S. 1949, M.S. 1951, at Texas A& M University, and his PhD in Immunogenetics at University of Wisconsin, 1955. His long years of employment include: Agricultural Experiment Station Louisiana State University, 1955-1957; USDA at Beltsville MD, 1957-1958; Arbor Acres Farm, Inc. Glastonbury CT, 1958-1962; Macdonald College, McGill University, 1963-1969; Tuskegee University, 1969-1990. With a leave of absence from Tuskegee University, 1971-1972 he served as the breeding and incubation expert for the Food and Agricultural Organization, United Nations. Karachi, Pakistan. He retired from Tuskegee University in 1990. Mr. Briles is survived by his wife Jewell B. Briles, and two sons, Scott C. Briles of Lawrenceville, GA, and Timothy H. Briles of Warrenton, VA, and four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Bethany House, Hospice of EAMC, 1171 Gatewood Drive Building 100, Auburn Alabama. Alabama Funeral Homes & Cremation Centers of Dadeville, AL are in charge of the arrangements.
Father: Worthie Harwood Briles b: 17 OCT 1894 in Italy, Ellis County, Texas
Mother: Leona Hays Connally b: 26 JUN 1896 in Forreston, Ellis County, Texas
- Living Briles
- Living Briles
- Abbrev: Original Briles Family Genealogy Information Collected by Worthie Elwood Briles, Susan Marie Briles
Title: Original Briles Family Genealogy Information Collected by Worthie Elwood Briles, Susan Marie Briles Kniebes, Sara Jean Br
Source Media Type: Book
Text: Date of Import: Mar 21, 1999
- Abbrev: Death Notice
Title: Death Notice-Florida