Monday, May 26, 2014

Grandpa Martin/Decoration Day

His name was Louis Joseph Martin.

He's the guy with the X below him.  That's my grandfather.  He and his friends are in training in Gettysburg, PA learning how to kill the enemy, which is a far cry from his civilian life as a truck driver and a day laborer.  Louis was assigned to the 61st Infantry in the 9th Infantry Brigade of the Fifth Division of the US Army.

He and his fellow Army soldiers arrived in France in the spring of 1918 and trained with the French Army before getting into the fray in July.  The unit was involved in the Saint-Mihiel Campaign which took place 12-15 September 1918.  This attack against the German lines was successful, albeit short-lived.  The American forces had difficulty keeping armaments and food nearby which limited how quickly their surge through the German (Hindenburg) lines.

Plus there was - the weather forecast...."Visibility: Heavy driving wind and rain during parts of day and night. Roads: Very muddy."  General John Pershing's plans did well as a guide, but the weather halted the movement of tanks. Louis was at the front line stationed somewhere from Pont-à-Mousson on the Moselle west toward Limey.  He moved with his Brigade and saw action at Meuse-Argonne and then, as the war ground to a armistices halt, chased the retreating German armies through the French countryside.

The war was over and Louis J. Martin came home with the rest of the doughboys.  He came back to Troy and married my grandmother, had my father (and another child who died early), worked, went to Mass, and died at the age of 46 in 1937.  There was no grave site specifically set aside for him and his family, so Lou's sister donated a spot in her family's site at St. Joseph's Cemetery.  And there he lay.  We (as in my father and grandmother and me) would visit the grave every Decoration Day or Memorial Day as we now call it.  After my grandmother died in 1970, my father rarely went, and after 1978 no one did.  Until I did....

He had been alone for nearly 40 years.  I found you, finally, Grandpa.  Thank you for your service, and yes, I have your medal.....

Thank you Louis J, Louis F., Bobby C., Jim VW and all who served and toiled for this nation.

More on Grandpa and who I blame for putting these damn lesions in my head.  Thanks for reading.  I've been away. Now I'm back.

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