Bryan Coffield Arnold

Bryan C. Arnold 1937

1937 Class Crest

Cullum No. 10973 • Nov 14, 1987 • Died in Los Altos, CA

Interred in Alta Mesa Cemetery, Palo Alto, CA

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When I beheld a photo of Bryan C. Arnold last night, I saw my late friend brought back to life. Since his death in 1964 I have had dreams where he appears and is carrying on our great friendship. I am overjoyed. Alas, the great tragedy can be lifted. Then, the bright sunlight that had filled the room, begins to fade. I am heartbroken at yet another lesson that Bill gives, being, all is illusion, and only the truth will set you free.

What is the truth, Bill?”

When I look at Bryan’s face I see the chiseled face of a warrior that moves the world. It does not contain ideas, as much as it moves whole concepts to its liking. They don’t make faces like this anymore. This is a Norman, a large man of six feet four inches. This is a man I now find much love for. This face is not that of my mortal enemy, because alas I know what he wanted all his life, a close trustworthy friend who would be honest, and always tell him the truth.

Bill Arnold had such a friend in me. I was his foil to his father, who came at William all the time, in his unbending duty to break his will. Reading his father was a Jurist and Mayor of a small town in Texas – whose mother was an artist – allowed me read between the stoic lines of this infamous and tragic tug-of-war, that ended up ruining so many lives. This story is bigger than Texas!

I remember the day Bill took me home to wash the outside windows on the house on Wayne after school. When Mr. Arnold came around the corner to see how the job was going, I was overwhelmed by the sight of him. He was a giant, but it was the look on his face. I glanced at Bill who was intently studying me. He needed to see my reaction. Growing up in Army camps he did not make close friends. We had become wonderful friend-artists in the last week. I think Bill was wondering if I was going to run away.

And, who is this, Bill? You didn’t tell me you were going to get someone to help you. You should have cleared it with me, first.”

Having grown up around Prussian career soldiers, and Captain Vic, I was not intimidated. I got what was going on. Bill was being punished for some infraction. It was his duty to wash all the windows on two-story Arnold house, all by himself. But, Bill has pulled a sneaky. He went and made himself a friend – a civilian!

You have to understand, that everything was exaggerated between these two – puffed up! It was a War of Big Egos –  Texas style! Jaspar the Ghost was lurking about, shaming his son, Bryan never able to do anything right! So, what was I going to get out of this. In a week I understood I was the designated witness, the fair judge, the third man in the ring.

When I didn’t go away and hide, and came back again and again, and when the Leutenant saw I was a hardworking loyal friend to Bill and the Arnold household, I could see Bryan took a liking to me. Bill informed me this was because we were both Libras in need of balance.

Why didn’t my friend tell me his father was a thespian, a poet, and a singer. I would never had guessed such a thing. But, employing my Vulcan skill of reading deeply into photgraphs, I could see Bill staring at this image, he taking it out of a drawer, and staring at it for hours.

Seven hours after Bill’s funeral, and while being driven across the San Mateo bridge in a huge storm, the Texas Giant, speaks. He asks me to be his son, now that his son was dead. I look at this image of a lonely man, whose father perhaps turned his back on Bryan, and now understand Bryan is asking me to be his friend. I can’t tell you how deep was my grief, deeper that any tears, as I went down, down, down into the depths of two souls that were at war with another. This father and son, is the beggining of the Vietnam War story. Here is, Darth Vader and his son, Luke. For there are no true villians in stories like this one. For, we are all forgivable, when we set out to capture beauty, for just a little while.

Because there is a being in us that is eternal. We conspire to be remembered, when we realize we will not live forever. Bryan Coffield Arnold has a memorable face. But, in God’s name, tell me what is going on behind that great mask.

If you look at the small photo of Bryan, you can see he is disfigured. Mr. Arnold had a terrible case of acme as a teenager that left him scarred for life. A professional was brought in to remove the scars in the West Point photo. Bill put me thru a test. He wanted me to see how I reacted to his deformed father who had his skin sandpapered off in Japan.

Before I lay eyes on Bill, I heard about him. My friend told me about a new kid in school that played football without his shirt on.

“He has these welts on his back. I think his father beats him. He doesn’t care if we see this.”

Bryan Coffield Arnold captured my beautiful friend, and he never let him go, not even when he drove onto the railroad tracks, and was killed by a train.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2014


Bryan Coffield Arnold, born in Gatesville, Texas, on 1 October 1913, was the son of a distinguished jurist, Jasper Henry Arnold, and his artist wife, Ray Coffield Arnold. Attending elementary and high school in Gatesville, he was introduced to the military through a year of CMTC, two years of Reserve Officer Training Corps, and a year in the Texas National Guard. This, together with his high school football and drama experience, surely helped persuade Congressman O.H. Cross of the Eleventh Congressional District (Texas) to select and appoint Bryan to the United States Military Academy at West Point, to which Bryan matriculated in 1933.
Early in his plebe year it became apparent that Bryan marched to a different drummer, determinedly so. His deep and abiding belief, which he was to sustain all his life, in the brotherhood of all mankind and in equal justice under all law endeared him to his friends and profoundly disturbed others, not the least of whom were his military superiors. Even so, in June 1937, having fully participated for four years in sports, choir, and Hundreth Night Shows, and having regularly been in attendance on the yard, Bryan stood proudly with his classmates to receive his commission as a second lieutenant of Infantry.
Of his years in the service, Bryan was later, in retrospect, to write, “My career was far from outstanding, but I tried to play the game honestly, and did my duty usually as I understood it, although as a human being the understanding was often fallible.”
Pearl Harbor found him commanding Headquarters Company of the 21st Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Territory of Hawaii. Soon after, Captain Arnold transferred to the Air Transport Command, where he was assigned as intelligence officer and adjutant of the 18th Transport Group in Amberly, Australia. He remained in this assignment until his return to the States in 1944 to attend the 18th General Staff Course at Fort Leavenworth.
Taking time out to marry Eugenia Smith in Cincinnati, Ohio, he returned to duty at the Army Training Center at Hamilton Field, California until the war’s end. Now, after completing a re-
fresher course at Fort Benning, Bryan returned to his first love, as Infantry battalion commander at Camp Fannin, Texas. An interesting detail as radiological safety officer for “Operation Crossroad” at Bikini Atoll preceded a short tour at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He then took his family to Fort Jackson, where he served as a battalion commander in the 10th Infantry Regiment.
In February 1946, Eugenia bore him a son who was to die tragically in 1965. In 1950, after the birth of daughter Victoria Lee, Major Arnold moved his family to France for four years while he served in various assignments, the last a two-year stint as deputy post commander at Brus-sac. Then, following a tour as Bud Underwood’s deputy at Fort Niagara, he spent sixteen months in Korea, and eighteen months at Camp Zama in Japan. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1961 and took his family to Oakland, California, to begin life as a civilian.
After five years in Oakland, during which Bryan worked in real estate, and Eugenia as a secretary at Modern Day School, they moved to southern California. Here Bryan worked for the city of Mountain View, then for the state, first for the Department of Water Resources, and later for the Highway Department. He also served as editor of the American Right of Way Association Newspaper. Eugenia began working in El Camino Hospital in 1965, where she was to remain for 21 years.
Physical difficulties forced Bryan’s retirement in 1983. About this time he moved into his daughter’s home in Los Angeles, and died in a nursing home in Sunnyvale in November 1987.
Our gentle Texan, with the voice of an angel, has gone. May God grant him rest.

Dr. Henry Summerfield Arnold (b. April 17, 1837, d. July 10, 1913)

Henry Summerfield Arnold was born April 17, 1837 in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, and died July 10, 1913 in Coryell County, Texas. He married Polly Molly Walker on November 19, 1865 in Brazos County, Texas, daughter of William Calvin Walker and Nancy Bolton.

More About Henry Summerfield Arnold and Polly Molly Walker:
Marriage: November 19, 1865, Brazos County, Texas.

Children of Henry Summerfield Arnold and Polly Molly Walker are:

  1. Edwin P. Arnold, b. August 15, 1866, Texas, d. September 15, 1910.
  2. Jasper Henry Arnold, b. 1869, Texas, d. date unknown.
  3. George J. Arnold, b. May 01, 1871, Texas, d. date unknown.
  4. Joseph Arnold, b. September 01, 1874, Texas, d. date unknown.
  5. Robert Marion Arnold, b. 1876, Texas, d. date unknown.
  6. Harry Lee Arnold, b. March 1880, Texas, d. 1934.


Name: Bryan Coffield Arnold
Birth Date: 1 Oct 1913
Gender: Male
Birth Place: Gatesville, Coryell, Texas, USA
Father: Jasper Henry Arnold
Father Birth Place: Brazos County, Texas
Mother: Ray Coffield
Mother Birth Place: Hays County, Texas
Mother Residence: Gatesville, Texas

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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