World War I Comes Home

I had heard the old Jackson High School was going to be torn down, so I wanted to see if they had started demolition yet. While there, I wandered around in City Cemetery, which is in front of the school. I was looking for graves of servicemen for a possible Memorial Day post. I found plenty there and in Russell Cemetery, but this happened to be the first I researched. It stopped me in my tracks. I’ll save the others for later. Click on the photos to make them larger.

From Page 4 of the October 16, 1918 Southeast Missourian:

Yesterday afternoon, perhaps more forcibly than ever before, the fact that we are in war was brought to the mind of the citizens of Jackson when two caskets, each draped with old glory, were taken from the Iron Mountain train at the same time. As if a hush had fallen over the city, all was still, and the large crowd assembled stood about in respectful silence.

The body of Ralph (Ray) Medley was taken to the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. Medley, south of the city, and was in charge of Maple Stevenson, the death soldier’s comrade in training camp. the other body, that of Arthur Winter, which was in charge of a sergeant from Fort Grady, Mich., was taken to the city cemetery, and was given a military funeral by the Jackson Home Guard, the first military funeral seen in Jackson by the present generation….

A splendid young man

The funeral of Ralph Medley was held today at 9:30 at the city cemetery, and the attendance was a large one. A mound of flowers also marks the last resting place of this young man, who gave his life to his country. Ray was a splendid young man, quiet and unassuming, a true farmer boy who combined hard work with a good education, and by this combination had begun to make a success as a farmer, when the call to arms came, and he began to fit himself for the service, only to be laid low by the dread disease now sweeping over the land.

Arthur G. Otto Winter

I didn’t know to look for Arthur G. Otto Winter’s stone, but I did find two stories about him in The Missourian.

October 12, 1918: Otto Winter, one of the young men in the army from this city, died at Fort Grady, near Sault Sainte Marie, Mich., yesterday afternoon, the influenza and pneumonia causing his death. He was sick only a few days. Otto was about (…) years old and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gottfried Winter, both of whom are dead. One sister, Mrs. Laura Winter, lives here and another, Mrs. Ben Pletl, at Cape Girardeau. Other relatives live in Perry county, from whence the family came to this city some twenty years ago.
The young man was sent into training camp from the county during the summer months and was a private in Company A, 18th Battalion of Infantry, stationed in the fort above given. He was an employe of the milling company here from the time he was old enough to fill a position until his entrainment for camp.

October 16, 1918: (from the story above about two Jackson boys coming home): Rev. W.G. Langehennig of the Lutheran church officiated at the grave, and at the conclusion of the short ceremony, bugler Lail stepped up and sounded taps, while the men of the home guard stood at “parade rest” with bowed heads. The floral offerings were profuse and beautiful, showing that the citizens of Jackson know how to honor their soldier dead, even if they occupied a lowly station in life, like Arthur Winter, who was a day laborer before his entry into the army. Tthe flag in the courthouse yard was at half mast during the funeral. 


Brookside War Memorial

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014On one of my trips to Wib’s BBQ, I finally stopped to visit the Brookside Park Memorial to Veterans of All Wars, sponsored by the Jackson Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10495 and the American Legion and their auxiliaries.

If I had been thinking, I’d have queued this up to run on December 7 to remember Pearl Harbor.

In a way, though, it is fitting that it didn’t run on that date. Since we have men and women in harms way all over the world every day, it’s appropriate not to pick a “special” day to recognize them and their families. We should remember them EVERY day.

I’ll break the photos into galleries by conflict. Click on the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images.

I have to admit I’m a little confused at how the names were selected. I tried to cross reference some with The Missourian’s book, Heartland Heroes – A Tribute to Korean and Vietnam Veterans, and found names on the memorial wall that weren’t in the book and vice versa.

Approach to memorial

Revolutionary through Civil War

World War I

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

Desert Storm

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014

Active Service

 Panorama of Memorial Wall

Brookside War Memorial 10-11-2014This is a panorama created from six individual frames merged into one image by Photoshop. A couple of frames didn’t match up exactly, but it will give you a feeling for the overall scope of the memorial.

Let’s hope it doesn’t need to be expanded any time soon.

Altenthal-Joerns Post 158

Altenthal-Joerns Post 158 - 04-15-2014Stories that you think are going to be so simple often turn out to have mysteries. While researching something else recently, I saw a brief about a local serviceman’s body being shipped home from France during World War I. I recognized the name as being on the Altenthal-Joerns American Legion Post 158 in Jackson.

Which name is right?

Cape County Courthouse World War I memorial Jackson MO 03-17-2010When I Googled Altenthal, a couple of Missourian stories about the WW I memorial at the Jackson Courthouse popped up. Both of them listed the war dead, including Clarence Altenthal and Clark A. Joernes.


Thinking maybe The Missourian made a typo in the first story that was picked up in a follow-up, I dug out photos I had taken of the memorial and confirmed that the paper was right: it WAS spelled with an “e.”

Front page story uses “Joernes”

Altenthal-Joerns Post 158 - 04-15-2014The April 3, 1919, Missourian had a Page 3 story headlined, “Oklahoma Woman Asks About Boy Killed in War.”

The story said, “Mrs. Kate Maybrey, wife of Major W.L. Mabrey, who has been designated as the official gatherer of data regarding boys in uniform from this county, is in receipt of a letter from Mrs. Louis Phillips of Oklahoma City, Okla., wherein she asks information regarding one Clark Joernes, who had written her and given Jackson as his home. Mrs. Phillips says in her letter that Clark Joernes is the only man who acknowledged receiving one of the many Christmas packages which Mr. and Mrs. Phillips had sent to soldier boys about Christmas last year, and she wanted to know more about the boy. He was at Fort Sill when he received the Christmas package.

“Sad to relate, however, the kind-hearted woman will never become better acquainted with the boy she befriended, and who acknowledged being the beneficiary of her kindness. Clark died the death of honor on the battlefield on September 28, 1918, when an enemy bullet laid him low in the fierce fighting in the Argonne Woods. He was a member of Co. L, 140th Infantry, 35th Division, in which so many of Cape County’s best young men covered themselves with glory. His sister, Mrs. Joe Headrick, lives here and Clark made his home here part of the time before induction into the army.

Eyewitness to deaths

Altenthal-Joerns Post 158 - 04-15-2014The May 28, 1919, Local News from the County Seat roundup had an item, “Otto Davis, who returned from overseas with the 140th and is at home now, has brought to relatives of Clarence Altenthal the first authentic news of the way Clarence made the supreme sacrifice during the fighting last summer. Davis saw Altenthal fall when hit by a piece of shrapnel, saw him reel and drop to the ground, mortally wounded. He was not more than twenty feet away from Altenthal when the latter received the death wound. Davis also saw Joerns, another Jackson boy, when that boy gave up his life for his country. Joerns received a ghastly wound, his head being shattered by shell fragments.

Joerns’ mother’s obituary

Giving more evidence that the Legion post is named correctly and that the courthouse memorial has a spelling error, the March 3, 1932, Missourian carried a story, “Mrs. Minnie Joerns, Mother of Jackson War Hero, Succumbs.”

Mrs. Minnie Joerns, 67 years old, died Wednesday night at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mildred Robinson, in Jackson, death coming as a relief from long suffering from cancer.” At the end of the list of survivors, it said, “One son, Clark Joerns, was killed in action on September 28, 1918, in the World War in the battle at Argonne, and the local post of American Legion No. 158 honors his memory by bearing his name.

(This story was overshadowed by news reports of Little Lindy’s kidnapping.)



Thoughts on Memorial Day

Three Wars, Three Men

January 15, 1969, I shot this photo in Athens, Ohio. I ran it  7-3/4 inches wide by 12-1/4 inches deep with the following caption, reflecting the self-absorption of a 22-year old:

three wars, three men: With most of our attention focused on Vietnam, it is easy to forget that other men of other years had their wars, too. Fate has placed three veterans in the same room at Sheltering Arms Hospital. They are Bill Howell, World War I, Jim Gates, World War II, and Clyde Edmundson, the Spanish-American War.

No Spanish-American War vets left

The last Spanish-American War veteran died in 1992 or 1993, depending on which account you read. The Last Veterans website has fascinating information for history buffs.

Frank Buckles of Bethany, MO, was born Feb. 1, 1901. When he was 16, he told an Army he he was 18. The recruiter told him to go home to his mommy. Frank decided a big lie might work better than a small one, so he told the next recruiter he was 21. As of this writing, he is America’s last surviving veteran of World War I. You can learn more about him at his website.

It’s hard to believe that our generation’s Vietnam vets are getting as gray as these fellows I shot in 1969.

Cape’s Freedom Corner

In mid-summer 1942, America was rejoicing in the defeat of the Imperial Japanese fleet in the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea. Cape Girardeans, a Missourian story reported, gathered at the corner of Capaha Park to dedicate four brick pillars holding two honor roll boards listing the names of 1,295 men and women serving in the armed forces.

Feb. 3, 1943, two large eagles from the salon of the steamer Bald Eagle were mounted atop the middle pillars. By 1944, the Honor Roll had grown to more than 3,700 names, with 60 gold stars alongside those who had died in the war.

The honor roll was taken down after the war ended. It was replaced in 1950 by the first memorial plaques to honor Cape Girardeau County servicemen killed or missing in action during World War II. Since then, plaques have been added honoring those from the county who died in World War I, Korea and Vietnam.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty was presented to the city by the Boy Scouts in 1950 and the corner became known as Freedom Corner. By 1997, the pillars had deteriorated to the point of collapse. The American Legion spearheaded an effort to get them rebuilt.

Homemade Memorial for Gulf War

I was riding my bike up Flagler Blvd. in West Palm Beach on a March day in 2007 when I saw a field of hand-lettered Corafoam tombstones in a city park. It was a homemade traveling memorial to the men and women who had died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I pushed my bike along every row, reading every name, sometimes with eyes brimming with tears at the waste of a generation. One name was missing.

Elizabeth Jacobson

Liz, as we called her, was my son Adam’s former girlfriend. She lived with us briefly before she joined the Air Force. When she came back from boot camp, she was one squared-away young woman who seemed to have her life figured out.

On Sept. 28, 2005, she was providing security on a convoy when the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. Liz and Army Sgt. Steve Morin, Jr., of Arlington, TX, were killed; a third solider was injured, but survived.

She was 21 years old.

She has the dubious honor of being the first female airman killed in the line of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We’re only on earth for a little while”

I called Adam. He got permission from the organizers to add her “stone” to the memorial. On it, he wrote some lines that she had sent him: “We’re only on this earth for a little while, so live life to the fullest and carry a smile.”

Here is a website dedicated to Airman First Class Elizabeth Jacobson.