Veterans ‘served my country with honor’

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com 

Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, originally known as Armistice Day.

Now known as Veterans Day, Armistice Day marked the end of the war on Nov. 11, 1918.

More than 30 nations fought in the war to end all wars, which started July 28, 1914. The United States entered the war April 6, 1917. More than 65 million troops worldwide fought. Five million of those were from the United States. Of that, 986 soldiers were from Dubois County.

Among the 116,516 casualties suffered by the United States, 34 of them were soldiers from Dubois County.

On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day, to honor those who served in the war and to continue the commitment of world peace. Since then, there have been several other wars, including World War II.

In 1993, the 75th anniversary of Armistice Day, the only surviving World War I veteran who had seen combat, then-97-year-old Huntingburg resident Joseph Vogel, told then-Herald reporter Catherine Senderling of the battles he fought in that war, including having to kill an enemy soldier and being shot himself.

Vogel was drafted into the U.S. Army Sept. 19, 1917 as a 22-year-old, and was a member of the Company G 163rd Infantry. He and his infantry replaced casualties suffered by the 5th and 6th Marine Machine Gun Regiments.

“It was a pretty rough time,” Vogel told Senderling “The 5th and 6th Marines had a lot of casualties. As we were going up to the front, we passed French soldiers who were coming back from the front. They were saying, ‘I can’t finish, I can’t finish.’”

He was assigned to guard the lieutenant in charge of his company, and had to kill a German soldier as a result. “I took off my sidearm, and I shot the man,” Vogel said.

He and his company fought at the Battle of Belleau Wood, which was 40 miles from Paris, a battle that ended in victory for the Allies on June 25, 1918. After that, they were ordered to take a heavily bombed-out town that sat across the river from Belleau Wood; the men waded across the Marne River to get there.

Vogler became an interpreter because he was the only one who could speak and understand German. That came in handy when the troop surprised German soldiers who were hiding behind some doors on a steep hill. The doors were thrown open and the German troops, confronted with grenade-wielding Allied soldiers, hollered the same word over and over.

“That meant they gave up,” Vogler interpreted. A total of 88 German prisoners were taken.

The company kept fighting, encountering enemy soldiers in an open field. They took cover in a sunken road and advanced when their lieutenant gave the orders. In the combat, Vogel was shot through his right lung.

“I was lying there, bleeding like a hog,” Vogel told Senderling, “and the lieutenant dragged me behind the road.” The Army ended up taking the field. Vogel was taken to a field hospital, along with several other wounded soldiers. He then went to a hospital in Paris, where he stayed for two months before being transferred to a convalescent center. He returned to the United States in the spring of 1919, and was discharged April 4, 1919 with 40 percent disability.

Two other surviving veterans at the time did not see combat. But they proudly served still.

Alois F. Bahlman of Ferdinand served from July 23, 1918 until Feb. 2, 1919; he was ready to ship out with his troop, Company G 9th Ammo Train, when the word of peace and end to the war came in the fall of 1918. That led to a cease fire on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Robert F. Seitz was a machine gunner and was trained at Camp Custer, Michigan, going to the camp in August 1918. A flu epidemic killed several trainees, and sent Seitz to the hospital, which is where he heard about the armistice.

During the 75th anniversary of Armistice Day, Vogler, then-100-year-old Bahlman and then-98-year-old Seitzl received a medal that was a replica of the victory medal World War I servicemen received.

They each said that they were willing to go serve in the military for the their country, despite the possible outcomes.

“I did what Uncle Sam told me to do,” Seitz told Senderling. “I wasn’t like some of them that stayed behind.”

“I served my country with honor,” Vogel said. “I loved my country.”

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” — President Woodrow Wilson

 

Our Fallen Heroes

The Dubois County soldiers who did not make it home from World War I were:

• Edward A. Angerer

• George W. Beebe

• Oscar J. Bische

• Leonard J. Burke

• Elmer E. Cooper

• James H. Cox

• Mark C. Dufendach

• Benjamin J. Ellis

• Fredrick W. Harmeyer

• Clarence Hawkins

• Herbert M. Huff

• Joseph F. Humbert

• Edward W. Hunefeld

• Frank K. Jahn

• George L. Krodel

• Robert J. Lange

• George W. League

• Clyde E. Line

• Albert A. Lusch

• Frank G. Neukam

• William H. Noble

• Bertram Pickhardt

• Leonard R. Schipp

• Clarence J. Schneider

• Edward H. Schwear

• Peter J. Seng

• John Seng

• Bernard H. Spillmeier

• Barney R. Sweeney

• Lawrence H. Uebelhor

• William L. Vogel

• Otto Vogl

• Charles W. Waddle

• John H. Wigger




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