Around the time of the Great Depression, life was difficult for families.

Food and other items were rationed, jobs were hard to come by and some homes didn’t have electricity.

During that time, John R. and Bessie McKain of the Shale Hill area east of Brownstown experienced those hardships while raising their 12 children.

If that wasn’t enough, six of their sons left home between January 1941 and March 1943 to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II, and then another son joined the U.S. Navy, resulting in seven serving at the same time.

Fortunately, all of them returned home in 1945, although a couple of them were injured in action and one dealt with an illness.

Then in the early 1950s during the Korean War, their other two sons were in the military at the same time.

With most of the McKain brothers being drafted, they didn’t have a choice but to serve their country. But they did it with pride.

“It was a job that had to be done,” said Max McKain, the youngest of the nine brothers and the only one still living. “It wasn’t volunteer. I got a letter one morning that said, ‘Greetings. Your friends and neighbors have selected you.’ That’s what it said on the paper, and that’s what I did. That’s what I had to do.”

Read the full story in Friday’s Tribune and online at

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.