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Flushing brothers to be honored for service

FLUSHING — The seven Litten brothers, born and raised in Flushing, will be honored later this year for their combined service of 132 years in the U.S. Air Force.

Katie Bradshaw, an Air Force veteran and student at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio, said she took an interest in the brothers and conducted video interviews about their service.

“This is the first step of what we are working on to honor their amazing family,” she said.

“I was working with a program at Wright State called Veterans Voices project. We would conduct interviews for the Library of Congress with veterans so the veterans would tell their story. We record it and we put together a nice video for them,” she said.

Two of the Litten brothers contacted her for an interview.

“They had a really incredible story,” she said. “Their family was originally from Flushing and all seven of the brothers served in the Air Force. Six of the brothers retired with 20 years or more.”

Bradshaw said the brothers did not come from a military tradition, but followed their oldest brother’s example when they heard of his experiences in the Air Force.

They came from a family of 11 children. The oldest brother joined before the Vietnam War, several joined during the conflict and some afterward. Three of them joined on the same day.

The two brothers, Larry and Jerry Litten of Fairborn, related their experiences — both of growing up in Flushing and of their time in the service. Their father was a coal miner and mechanic. Larry Litten remembers days of working in the local dairy, and the nights sleeping out in his car listening to music on the radio.

Jerry Litten recalls signing up for service along with two of his brothers.

“Me and a couple of my other brothers, Kenny and Larry, decided to join the Air Force. It was Sept. 15, 1959,” he said, adding he had considered the military since his early years.

“There was no jobs at Flushing, Ohio, unless you wanted to work at the dairy or maybe a coal mine. All my other brothers were going to go in and a couple was already in, so that might be for me,” he said.

During the Vietnam conflict, he served in Southeast Asia in 1970 and 1971, working in a personnel liaison office.

“We came from a pretty poor family. Dad worked pretty hard,” Larry Litten said.

“They kept us out of trouble. It was very enjoyable to grow up in Flushing … a lot of good people down there.”

Larry Litten said the brothers did not serve in combat, but chiefly worked on the planes and other assignments.

“Dad took us over to the recruiters (in St. Clairsville) and we all signed up,” he said.

They were proud they were able to send their parents money, which enabled them to build a new house.

“We felt they did a lot for us, we’d better do something for them,” Larry Litten said. “We had allotment checks sent to our mother, money to buy a house with. Dad seemed like he was more happier person since he had his own house and it was paid for.”

Larry Litten said service afforded them opportunities to see different countries where they were stationed.

“While we were at the military, it seemed like we always crossed paths with each other,” he said.

He said he believed his family had the second longest combined period of service among full-brothers in United States history.

“I know one family that has served more. They came from Alabama,” he said. “They had 156 years, but they had 18 kids. They had 11 boys that went in. … Some of that was in reserves, but ours was all active duty.”

He said there is no official listing.

Bradshaw said they quickly surpassed the goal of $5,000. The next step is the purchase of a memorial bench in Dayton. Afterward, they may look into purchasing a plaque to be hung at Flushing Library

“They really wanted some kind of recognition in Flushing because their childhood was there and it’s still very special to them even though they don’t live there,” Bradshaw said.

Four of the seven brothers are still living, David, Steve, Larry and Jerry. Bradshaw could only speak with two since the others lived out of state. John, Ken and Art have passed away.

Bradshaw herself served from 1999 through 2003. She is pursuing a Masters degree in social work and intends to work with veterans.

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