Bruce D. Frail


Bruce David Frail is the 136th Brother to hold the office of Commander-in-Chief.

Bruce was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 1961. He is the son of Thomas Vincent Frail Jr. an Army Officer who was stationed all around the country and served for 41 years, this would be the reason why when Bruce graduated from William M. Davies High School in Lincoln, Rhode Island he joined the United States Marine Corps, he served as a Combat Engineer with WES-27, MWSG-27, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, 2nd United States Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic, MCAS Cherry Point, NC. While serving the United States Marines, Bruce trained in Basic Infantry, Engineer School included Light to Medium Weight Equipment Operator, Bulk Fuelman, Crash Rescue (jet fuel fires and aircraft firefighting), Demolitions, Mine & Countermine Warfare, and he is cross trained in US and USSR Engineer Equipment. He is qualified with the M-1 Carbine, M-14, M-16A1/M-16A2, M-60 Machine Gun, M-72 Law Rocket Launcher, Model 1901 pistol, Hand Grenades, M-203 Grenade Launcher. He rates the Marine Corps Parachutist Badge, Expert Rifle Badge, and Expert Pistol Badge. He is a Combat Marine with three (3) Combat Action Ribbons and other decorations.

Bruce left the active duty with the Marine Corps and was hired by Shannon Yacht Company in Bristol Rhode Island, where he learned to pilot the 38- and 50-foot class yachts manufactured by Shannon, he was also a member of the hardware crew for one year with an emphasis on the 50 footers bow thruster and the 38 and 50 footers keel design and lay-up. Bruce was part of a 50% layoff and went to work as an Annealer with Millard Wire and AJ Oster in Warwick Rhode Island. In 1986 he was pinned between a forklift, a 2,500-pound coil of metal and a steel support column, injuring his back. He was given some very bad medical advice from a company insurance doctor who told him to take some pain pills and muscle relaxers for two weeks and go back to work. Within six hours of his return, he lost the feeling in his legs and collapsed, taken to the trauma center at Rhode Island Hospital. Not able to feel his legs at first, his oldest son Thomas James had just been born and lying in bed not knowing if he would ever be able to run or walk with TJ was more painful than the injury to his back.

Determined to not allow that to happen and not taking the surgeons advice to have surgery, which was to remove several discs fusing the remaining bones and caging his back, they estimated that he would lose at least 15% mobility, he tried a very different type of treatment. Within a couple of weeks, he was able to feel his feet and was taking steps, not many at first and at some points collapsing to the floor again with no feeling in his legs, but it was coming back sooner and sooner each time. A long story but after almost four years of aqua therapy, electroshock and relaxation therapy, and physical adjustments, Bruce was walking five miles a day and swimming without support 2 miles every other day. No surgery and six years after being pinned he passed the State of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Fire Academy’s firefighter challenge which was required for him by the fire department in Coventry’s insurance company to become a firefighter.

Bruce has worked as a Volunteer/Call Fire-Fighter in the town of Coventry, R.I. and West Greenwich, R.I. where he studied and trained in Emergency Response, he holds degrees and certificates in fire-fighting which include; Firefighter I, Emergency Medical Technician with Life Star certification, High-Angle Rescue, Hazardous Materials Rescue Technician, Confined Space Rescue Technician, Rope Rescue, Trench Rescue, Arson, Rapid Intervention Team, and while a charter member of the Kent County's Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) was trained in Incident Command Systems, Mass Decontamination Systems, Instructor of Counter-Terrorism tactics including; Emergency Response to Terrorism: Tactical Considerations - Company Officer - Hazardous Materials - Emergency Medical Services, other Instructor Levels of training, Hazardous Materials training in Storage Tank Emergencies, Gasoline Tank Truck Emergencies, Intermodal Containers, Decontamination, and Fire & Explosion Investigators.

Bruce and his second son Benjamin joined the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 2003. They were unaware of any relative who had served and so joined as Associates in Elisha Dyer Camp #7. With help from some of the Brothers of the Camp and a couple genealogists they were able to break through a block in the Frail family’s history. He found that a relative who was married and had three children (2 girls and 1 boy) the boy named Hugh Friel Jr. Hugh Frail Jr was the block on my side of the family, everything ended with him. Nobody could get past this block until one of the genealogists talked with an older family member in England who had always said that this Hugh Jr. was the son of a man that left England under unknown circumstances sometime between 1851 and 1861. Bruce’s parents had always disregarded this story because she stated that this Hugh who left was Irish and not English, and the family story was that the Frail line was always English. Well, they were all correct, Hugh Frail Jr as he was known in 1861 was in fact Hugh Friel Jr in 1851, son of Hugh Friel Sr., yes, the Irishman who left the United Kingdom on 12 April 1854 because his wife was having a fourth child and Hugh Sr. was not the father.

The father, Thomas Hearld, was the man that Hugh’s wife worked for as a housekeeper. Hugh Sr. divorced Ellen (his wife) and traveled to the United States to move in with his brother James who had land in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Thomas Hearld, father of the fourth child also got divorced from his wife, married Ellen, and took in Ellen’s first three children but they kept their last name with one small change, he changed their name from Friel (the Irish spelling) to Frail (the English spelling) and then he commissioned a coat of arms and documents of provenance to show they were English. This made it easier for them to be accepted into English society but also made it harder to track beyond the children. It also made Bruce’s father’s story correct, as Hugh Frail Jr. was English (at least on paper). When the American Civil War started Hugh Friel Sr. decided to join Company E, 67th Pennsylvania Infantry. Hugh Sr. had a very interesting story while serving in the 67th PA, but in short, he was captured in 1863 and spent 5 weeks in Belle Isle, Virginia, he was exchanged and fell back in with the 67th. In the Spring of 1864, May 5th, and 6th to be exact Hugh Sr. was in the Battle of the Wilderness, yes only until the 6th (while still fighting) when he was overrun and captured again due to the injury he sustained on the 5th when his rifle blew up in his face, blinding him in the right eye.

In 2006 with his second son Benjamin and three others founded Major Sullivan Ballou Camp #3, where he served as Camp Commander in 2007-08, he then served as Commander of the Department of Rhode Island from 2009 -2012. It was during this timeframe that on the death of his father-in-law, Bruce found that there were 2 other veterans that served in New York on his wife’s side of the family at which time Bruce’s first son TJ joined Bruce and Benjamin in Camp #3 and daughter Amber joined the newly formed Sarah Ballou Aux #3, ASUVCW.

Bruce D Frail