Saturday, November 07, 2009

Veterans Day - November 11, 2009

My father served proudly in World War I. He was a wagoner in the 26th Yankee Division - 102nd Supply Company.

On April 13, 2002 I went to Hartford, Connecticut with our daughter Sarah who was attending a workshop. While she went to the workshop, I went to the Hartford Public Library. I found an old book entitled: "Service Records Connecticut Men and Women in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War 1917 - 1920" published by the Office of the Adjutant General, State Armory, Hartford, Connecticut. What a find!

This book contains the names of all who served in the military from the various Connecticut cities and towns. In the Hartford portion on page 1204, my father is listed as follows:

"WHITE, GEORGE C. 66,586, White - Hartford, Conn. - Enlisted NG Hartford, Conn, June 7, 1917. Br (born) New Bedford, Mass, 21 yrs. Sup Co 1 Inf CNG (Sup Co 102nd) to disch (discharge). Wag (wagoner) June 8, 1917. AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) Nov 13, 1917 to Apr 7, 1919. Hon disch (Honorable discharge) Apr 29, 1919." (My father had changed his LeBlanc name to White until he asked my mother to marry him.)

The 26th Yankee Division returned from France in April 1919 and was demobilized in May 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts. Thanks to the Zazzle Company I have a photo of the demobilization.

The 26th INFANTRY DIVISION -- The YANKEE Division in WWI and WWII. Formed by the assimilation of dozens of militia units from throughout New England, the 26th was first assembled as the 26th Infantry Division in August 1917 and was thus called the Yankee Division. The heroic 26th achieved fame at Belleau, St. Miihiel, Verdun and the Marne.

During WWI Wagoners were like truck drivers. The name Wagoner is a hold over from the old horse days. Wagoners drove trucks that supplied the battery with ammunition, powder and other supplies that the battery needed.

World War I Draftees were registered on 5 June 1917, on 5 Jun 1918 and on 12 September 1918. This draft included males 21 to 30 who were not already serving in the military, regardless of their declared nationality. Men older than 30 and younger than 21 sometimes registered for the draft, but their registration was not required.

On my father's tombstone at Veterans' Lot at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Lawrence, Massachusetts we read the following:

George C. LeBlanc - Massachusetts - Wagoner 102 INF 26 DIVISION - World War I - September 30, 1896 - September 6, 1956. Though the tombstone says "Massachusetts" he was living in Hartford when he enlisted and was living there when discharged.

Thanks to my mother, today I am proud to have my father's Victory Medal with four clasps. The clasps represent the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector offensives.

I was able to find an image of the WWI Victory Medal online and post here so you can see what it looked like. This one has only two claps versus the four my father's medal has.

My father never talked about his experiences in the war and it seems like none of the servicemen from that era did. It was indeed one of the worse wars.

As I child I remember playing with his helmet he had kept. I've often wondered whatever became of that. Of course, I am also very fortunate to have my father's World War I enlistment and discharge papers. These papers tell their own story as to my father's service. I never realized just how fortunate I was to have these papers until I wrote to the Military asking for a new copies since these are beginning to fade. The response was that my father's military records had burned in a fire some years ago when many military records were also destroyed. What a loss!

To all of our Veterans, whatever war they fought in or whether they served during peace time, we are forever grateful. They have been and are our watchful Warriors who fight for the freedoms we continue to enjoy. It is just sad that all peoples around the world do not treasure freedom as we do - it is so precious!

If you know or meet a Vet, thank him or her for their service.
Please remember the thirteen who died in the shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Some had just returned from tours of duty in Iraq while others were about to be deployed - our prayers are with them and their families.

Their names were released this afternoon:

Michael Grant Cahill, 62, of Cameron, Texas
Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 32, of Plymouth, Indiana
Reservist John Gaffaney, 56, of Serra Messa, California
Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, of Tipton, Oklahoma
Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wisconsin
Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah
Pfc. Michael Pearson, 21, of Bolingbrook, Illinois
Russell Seager, 51, of Racine, Wisconsin
Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago, Illinois
Military physician assistant Juanita Warman, 55, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Spc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minnesota

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