Doyle Mills in Task Force Smith – Brown County Texas' first KIA of the Korean War

Taken from research written by Edward Barkett III, a nephew of Doyle Mills.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea.

Part of the United States Army situated in Japan sent 406 men of the 1st Battalion of the 21st Infantry Regiment and 134 men of Battery A of the Field Artillery Battlion of the 24th Infantry Division to South Korea. The task force was named Task Force Smith after the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel B. Smith. The commander of the field artillery battalion was Lieutenant Colonel Miller O. Perry.

Unfortunately, the task force was under strength. The 1st Battalion only had Company B and C. Company A was not sent. Only half of the battalion's headquarters company was sent. In addition, only half of the communication platoon of the battalion was sent. Critically affecting the outcome of the battle was the fact that only half of the heavy weapons platoon was sent. Only two 4.2 inch mortars and two 75 mm recoilless rifles were airflighted to South Korea. Some soldiers from Company M volunteered to go with the task force. The other two battalions sent a few of their officers to Company B and Company C.

The task force left Camp Wood for Itazuke Air Base in Japan on June 30, 1950. After arriving at Taejon in South Korea, task force Smith was sent to defend the village of Osan to halt the North Korean People's Army (KPA) advance. The village is located twenty miles south of the capital Seoul. In the morning hours of July 5, 1950 the task force dug in alongside the Osan-Suwon road north of Osan.

July 5, 1950 was a rainy overcast day. Tanks of the North Koreans brielfly engaged the U.S. task force, and fought their way through the meager defenses. The tanks continued toward Osan. Later that day Task Force Smith engaged the KPA's 16th and 18th Infantry Regiment's of the KPA 4th Division. The North Koreans had the numerical advantage with almost 5,000 troops. Task Force Smith's casualties were approximately between 150 to 180 soldiers killed in action, wounded in action, or taken prisoner of war by the North Koreans. Few of the POW's survived the war.

Army PFC Doyle Mills of Brownwood, Texas was the first man from Brownwood and the first man from Brown County to be killed in action in the Korean War. He was one of six men from Texas that were killed in action that day. Five other soldiers from Texas were captured as prisoners of war. All of them died in captivity after surviving the infamous Tiger Death March into North Korea. Doyle Mills was also one of the five heavy weapons infantrymen that day who were killed in action at the Battle of Osan. Two other heavy weapons infantrymen were captured and later died in captivity after the Tiger Death March. A total of 1,779 Texans died in the Korean War.

Doyle Mills was the twin brother of Hoyt Mills. They were born on January 17, 1933 in Santa Anna, Coleman County in Texas. They were the children of Augustus G. Mills and Bessie Maie Cothern. According to their birth certificates, Augustus Mills was the owner of a farm. In the 1930 census, the farm is listed at Number 50 at Liberty Road and Cleveland Road in Precinct 7 in Coleman County. Augustus Mills, who was born on 12/9/1867 in Arkansas, unfortunately had died on 12/28/1932 in Santa Anna from typhoid fever and walking pneumonia. He had the typhoid fever since 11/1/1932 and walking pneumonia since 12/20/1932. Bessie, who was born on 1/5/1901, in Indian Territory (Tandy, Oklahoma), was now a widow with seven children ranging in ages from the two newborns to a seven year old.

Bessie Cothern met Paul Elmer Burson. They were married on 6/10/1935 in Brownwood, Brown County, Texas. Paul Burson was born on 2/28/1898 in Lovelady, Texas. Bessie and Paul had four children together. According to the 1940 census on 4/17/1940 the Burson family lived with their ten children at Number 128 on a farm off the Old Bangs-Coleman Highway. All of the surrounding properties were also farms. Paul was 41 years old and worked as a carpenter for a WPA road project. Bessie was 39 years old. The children were Juanita May Mills, 14; Tyson Augustus Mills, 13; Charles Powell Mills, 11; Jerry Wilson Mills, 10; Thomas Calvin Mills, 9; Doyle and Hoyt Mills, both 7; the other twin boys were Wendell R. Burson and Wyman Burson, both 3; and Sallie Audry Burson, 2. Their eleventh child Arline Carol Burson was born on 9/9/1940 in Bangs, Brown County, All the other children were born in Santa Anna in Coleman County,

For Paul Burson's World War Two draft registration on 2/16/1942, the family was living in Bangs. He was 43 years old. He was 5 feet and five inches tall and weighed 120 lbs. He had gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion.

Doyle and his siblings grew up in Santa Anna until the family moved first to Bangs in Brown County, and later to Brownwood in 1943/1944. Doyle and Hoyt quit school after the fifth grade to work. They worked on neighboring farms to supplement the family income. When they had just turned seventeen, their father Paul Elmer Burson signed the paperwork allowing them to enlist in the Army before they turned eighteen.

Both were sent to Japan as part of the occupation forces. Doyle's service number was RA 18298147. He was a heavy weapons infantryman in the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Divison, which was stationed on Kyushu Island. The 24th was one of four understrength Army divisions in Japan,

Doyle Mills was killed in action at The Battle of Osan on July 5, 1950. Following the Inchon Landing in September 1950, and the successful advance of the Army and Marines, his body was recovered. He was interned at Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood. There is a photo of Doyle and of the grave marker at Also there are two photographs of the Korean War Project Remembrance. It states that he was a member of the Heavy Mortar Company. Most likely he was a member of the weapons platoon (4.2 inch mortar) that was sent with the 21st Infantry Regiment. His home of record/enlistment was in Brown County,

Doyle was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

[Published here, as found on the eBrownwood Bulletin Feb 2021, and with Mr. Ed Barkett's written permission. My thanks to Mr. Barkett for remembering his uncle's sacrifice and researching it so well, and for sharing. Lest We Forget.]

The following text by curator Danny Jones on 4 Aug 2021

While I was creating this web page and doing further research about Doyle Mills in February of 2021, it finally dawned on me that his first name was misspelled on the VA marker at his grave in the Greenleaf Cemetery at Brownwood, Texas. His first name on that marker was spelled "DOLYE", . It bothered me so much that it had been there for over 60 years without being corrected that I set out to get it fixed. I told my friend, Mr. Ed Walker, about the plan and invited him along to a monument company where I thought I could purchase a replacement. Well, plan A was terminated as soon as the salesman said it would cost between six hundred and a thousand dollars. So my friend and I went to see the VA's county representative where we got some promising info and an 800 phone number to call.

On 1 March 2021 I called the VA at 800-697-6947 and spoke with a nice lady there who gave me the instructions for getting a replacement VA marker. She said that I would need to send them a form 40-1330, a photo of the existing VA marker, and a military document with his name correctly spelled. The photo I already had of course, but the form 40-1330 required a relative's signature if possible, and a military document of Doyle's, I thought would be next to impossible. I had already reached out to Doyle Mill's nephew, the one who wrote the article above, and so I emailed him about what I needed to get plan B rolling. With his family's help, they came up with a tattered but legible certificate of Doyle's Purple Heart which I used a copy of for the military document.

So, long story short, the Greenleaf cemetery manager signed the form 40-1330 on 12 April 2021 with myself and Mr. Ed Walker present. Doyle's half-sister signed the form 40-1330 on 13 April 2021 with my wife and I present. It along with the photo of Doyle's VA marker and photo-copy of his Purple Heart Certificate were bundled up and I got to send them to the VA on 14 April 2021. Sometime in July, the cemetery manager forgot to inform me and Mr. Walker when the new VA marker arrived and was installed . I sent picures of the new VA marker to the family on 3 August 2021 the same day that I discovered it was done, they were excited, too. It was beautiful, and everybit worth all my hand wringing.