Harland "Sonny" H. Harville
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 10/01/1942 - 12/18/1945
Malaria Control, I Corps Band - bass player, 339th Engineers

Sonny Harville was born in Vivian, Louisiana to Julia and Thomas Harville. Sonny attended Vivian High School, graduating in 1938. The Harville's did not have indoor plumbing until Sonny was in high school relying on a wood fireplace for heat and a wood stove for cooking. To augment their diet they raised cows, hogs and chickens and would often go pole fishing to add fish their diet. The family kept one old mule for various and sundry tasks. As a young man, music was a big part of Sonny's life. He remembers listening to the radio shows of the day including Amos and Andy and Lum and Abner. On Saturday night, family and friends would get together to play their instruments and sing, using Stamps-Baxter songbooks. When one of their neighbors got a console radio, they went to their house and listened to the Grand Ole Opry. Some of his musical favorites include Fiddlin' Arthur Smith and the Delmore Brothers, Red Foley, Marty Robbins, Larry Ford and Patti Page. There was always a fiddle or guitar around but his first instrument was a tenor banjo that he ordered from Sears-Roebuck. He formed his first band, the Dixie Tumbleweeds, playing at a radio station in Kilgore, Louisiana. On Saturday nights they played at school dances or at churches and the radio station allowed them to advertise. In 1941, he went to West Virginia with friends Tex and Cliff Grimsley and an accordion player, George Abraham, and played on the radio there. He was twenty-one, working at the radio station, when he was drafted into the Army and sent to Camp Butner, North Carolina for infantry training. From Camp Butne he went by train to Oakland, California and then shipped out to Brisbane, Australia. From Brisbane he then sailed to New Guinea where he joined the 339th Engineers, working first in supply and then in Malaria Control. The company's main job was building roads and airfields. The men worked hard but did have some recreational time, playing softball, watching movies and seeing some USO shows. They also formed a sixteen piece orchestra, with Sonny on bass, and began playing the pop music of the day. They later cut it to a five piece band and became the 1st Corps Five moving to 1st Corps Headquarters. They played in mess halls, hospitals, officers' clubs and enlisted men's clubs. He was stationed there for a year and a half and then in the Philippines for a year and a half eventually moving to Osaka, Japan where I Corps was headquartered. While in Osaka, they performed on the Armed Forces Network three times a week. After discharge in 1945 he returned to Vivian and then joined the Palmetto Playboys in Hartsville, South Carolina. Later, his band, the Texas Show Boys, played on the Louisiana Hayride, and Sonny became the staff piano player for the Hayride, playing with Slim Whitman for several years. Sonny also worked with Curly Williams and The Georgia Peach Pickers, The Four Deacons and The Deep South Quartet. He met his future wife, Janet Kyle in 1948 and they were married in 1950. After he and Janet were married and their son was born, she would sit right behind Elvis's mother and daddy at the Hayride where they always saved a seat for Elvis. Sonny met Johnny Cash and June Carter and he also played with Marty Robbins, Red Foley, Tex Ritter and Patsy Kline. His favorite Hayride performer was Billy Walker. Sonny stayed at the Hayride until it ended. Sonny met Jimmy Davis at the Hayride and began playing with him at personal appearances in East Texas and North Louisiana. Sonny felt that Jimmy Davis and Tex Ritter were two of the nicest people he ever worked with.