World War I from "Our County Our Story"

Malcolm Rosholt

From 1914 to 1917, Americans, still neutral, watched the Central Powers and the Western Allies fight for supremacy in Europe and on the high seas. The break in United States neutrality and pro-German sentiment came on May 7, 1915 when a German submarine sank the Lusitania, a British passenger ship of the Cunard line which was carrying many Americans. By April 1917 President Woodrow Wilson decided that German power had become a threat to the security of the United States and asked Congress for a declaration of war. While many enlisted in the first three months, the need for manpower was enormous and within three months the draft was instituted. The first man called up on July 20, 1917 from Portage County was Charles C. Miller.

While men from the county were assigned to many units, the main rallying point for volunteers in April- May 1917 was Troop I, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. Its identity was shortly lost when it became attached to Battery E, 120th Field Artillery, 32nd ("Red Arrow") Division. After training at Camp Douglas and Waco, Texas, the 32nd Division sailed for France where it went into combat on the Western Front at Chateau Thierry. Other men from the county in other units fought at Soissons, the Aisne-Marne, and in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Men from the county killed in action or died in service in World War I were:

Adams, Frank Jr.

Berens, Romulus C.
Blaskoske, Anastazy Mjelde
Borgen, Raymond T.
Brill, Benjamin J.
Burtis, Darrell D.

Chapman, Renold E.
Chase, George H.

Erickson, Carl A.
Eskofski, John F.
Furo, George I.

Gray, John E.

Hayner, Earl E.
Holt, William E.
Huggins, Robert P.

Johnson, Edmund

Knutson, Elmer
Knutson, Greger
Kropidlowski, Peter W.
Kulas, Charles
Kulas, Peter P.
Kunz, Stanley F.

Mac Nish, George G.
Mallum, James E.
Martini, John W.
Mead, John Van
Melurn, John O.
Michaiski, Leo F.
Niemczyk, Frank
Nitka, Anton
Nowak, Frank

Obert J.
Oertel, Carl E.
Olson, Omey J.

Palash, Andrew H.
Palewade, John
Pliske, Thomas F.
Printz, Frank E.

Reilly, John P.
Rozell, Albert H.
Russell, Irvin E.

Shulist, Martin
Singer, Peter
Stenson, Emil H.
Szcesny, Stephen F.

Tallakson, Ingwald

Winecke, Walter
Wrowinski, John

Zielinski, Joseph H.
Zylka, Frank M.

On March 8, 1919 the Stevens Point Journal carried a page one story on the death of Leo Keenan, former employee of the Soo Line yard office at Stevens Point who, in World War I, joined Battery D, 129th Field Artillery in Kansas City, Missouri. In a letter to relatives, the commanding officer, writing from Roseiries, France, A. P.O. 743, said:

"It is with a sad heart that I have to inform you of the death of your brother, Leo Keenan, who was a corporal in my battery. Lie died at Base hospital No. 91 from an attack of appendicitis... The battery lost one of its best and most efficient men and I know exactly how it would feel to lose a son. There is not much that can be said to comfort one in a case of this kind, but you can feel that Leo Keenan died with an honorable record - one that any man can be proud of; that he did his part in the greatest adventure for the right that our country has ever undertaken, and that he left behind him a whole battery of friends and comrades who miss him as keenly and mourn him as sincerely as his family will."

The letter was signed, "Harry S. Truman, Capt. 129th Field Artillery, Commanding Battery D."



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