Veterans Day: Grandpa’s Experience During WWI

Day 2 of a salute to Veterans.  I am continuing with my grandfather’s words, as he wrote them when he was about 95 years old.  He’s been gone many years now.  I am so lucky his words live on.

Grandpa with one of my sons and one of my daughters.
Grandpa with one of my sons and one of my daughters.

Sgt. W. Mills said that all military camps were quarantined and it would be weeks before any new draftees were taken in.  We would be notified when the quarantine would be lifted.  Sgt. W. Mills was pleased with the number of men that enlisted, and too, we had some top notch musicians, several that were members of the local Chevrolet Band.

A few days later as I got to work, I started to feel sick and feverish and at that time the epidemic was at it’s peek and everybody regardless of where they might be were asked to wear a cloth mask over their mouth and nose.  Telling my foreman that I wasn’t feeling good, he said

for me to go home.  When I got there I was put to bed and the next day all but Dad and Clara [a younger sister] started getting sick.  Doctors could not make house calls because of the many that were sick.  Dad stayed home and with the help of an elderly lady who had been a nurse, they did the best of their know how.  For the next four days or more, we sick ones ran a high fever but soon we all began to feel better and decided that on the following Monday we would all go to work.

When I got to my department I was told that four in my department died and others lost a couple of children.  I still was a little shaky and when I got home that evening, there was a letter for me from the War Department.  On opening it I was instructed to report to my group and prepare to leave for Camp Meade, Friday at 8 a.m.

The next day, I went to report and was asked to sign the final enlistment papers they wrapped and pinned an olive colored band around my arm and told me to wear it till I got to camp.  From there I went to the shop to let them know I was forced to quit and become a soldier.  They thought it was a short notice but would get my check in two days.

There was not much more to prepare, only to say a few goodbyes and when Friday came I was up early and ready to go.  Dad went with me and we took the street car to the Pere Marquette depot and there I met the others which there were eleven plus Sgt. Mills.

WWI Territory Changes
WWI Territory Changes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the train pulled in and it was time to mount the steps, the goodbye was hard to say.

Many of the others had their hat their folds (sic) to part with an it took some urging of the trainmen to get all aboard.  I was one of the last to get on and as I was ready to leave, Dad gave a big squeeze hug and kiss that brought a big lump in my throat.  Through the window, I saw Dad waving and wiping his eyes as the train moved off.

….I have a lump in my own throat, just thinking about my grandfather’s father sending his son to fight in a war, possibly in his homeland, and perhaps never seeing him again.  More tomorrow…


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