The five Doherty brothers came from Corinth, all served in the armed forces during World War II, and then all came home alive.
Those are the similarities. But the five brothers served in four different military branches, and each did something different in the war effort against Germany and Japan.
Douglas, Albert, James, William and George Doherty were all honored Tuesday in the county’s monthly Honor Our Deceased Veterans ceremony at the county offices in Ballston Spa. All are now deceased.
It’s the first time so many members of the same family have been honored at once in the nearly nine years the county has been holding such ceremonies.
“Five is the most I’m aware of,” said Robert Mitchell, director of the county Veterans Service Agency.
The brothers were part of an Irish immigrant family that came to the U.S. in 1907. Stephen and Elizabeth Doherty settled in Corinth, near papermill jobs. There were eventually 12 children, eight boys and four girls.
The wartime stories of the five who served were compiled by Lauren Doherty, now the Day town historian, for a Skidmore College history class in 2002. She’s the granddaughter of James Doherty.
“I’d always been interested in the family’s stories and history,” Lauren Doherty said after the ceremony. “I knew their years were numbered, and it was time to get the whole story.”
The oldest brother in the family, Joseph, also wanted to enlist but was deemed too old, she said.
James Doherty was the oldest of the brothers who served, 33 years old when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1942. He was the only brother drafted; the others all enlisted.
James Doherty was a flight chief with the 713th Bomber Squadron in England, holding the rank of master sergeant and flying on B-24 bombing missions over Germany. Outside the military, he worked 45 years at the International Paper mill in Corinth.
The others, in order of age:
u Albert “Ike” Doherty served in the Army as a corporal, working in supplies in England, Normandy and Czechoslovakia. He also worked 45 years at International Paper in Pennsylvania, the only of the brothers to settle away from Corinth.
u Douglas “Duffy” Doherty served in the Army infantry in the Pacific Theater, rising from squad leader to first sergeant. He is the only brother to get a Purple Heart, after being wounded by an artillery shell fragment during the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945. He was a rural mail carrier and former Corinth police chief.
u William Doherty was in the Navy, serving as master of arms on the escort aircraft carrier USS Sitkoh Bay, and also served on Midway Island. On Midway, his family said he was chosen to drive when heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney visited the island. He was a Corinth village policeman for 36 years, including 22 years as chief. He also served on the Corinth Town Board from 1988 until his death in 2005.
u George Doherty, the youngest brother, joined the Marines at age 19. He was a mortarman in the Pacific Theater and was training in California for the invasion of Japan when the war ended. Later, he graduated from Springfield College and was a physical education teacher and coach at the Hadley-Luzerne schools before being killed in an auto accident in 1972.
“They were all great athletes, too,” recalled John Nolan of Saratoga Springs, the county Republican chairman and a former Corinth schools history teacher. “There were all these semi-pro leagues in baseball and basketball after World War II, and they were in that.”
“As a mother of two sons, I have to say I can’t imagine the mother. Thanks to her for her sacrifices,” said County Clerk Kathy Marchione, who spoke at the ceremony representing state Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick.
Corinth Supervisor Richard Lucia said the ceremony was hard for him because he knew so many of the Dohertys.
“Duff was my mailman. I worked with Bill on the Town Board for years. They lived across the street for a long time,” Lucia said.
A flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol will fly in the family’s honor outside the county complex for the next month.
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