Saturday, July 08, 2006

First World War Grandfather

My Grandfather (Dad’s Dad) was born in 1899. Grandpa was 17 years old when The United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. I don’t have the exact details of his enlistment in the Army. I have requested a copy of his service record from the National Archives but I am still waiting for a response.

My sister has this picture of Grandpa and his buddies at their training camp.

Grandpa and his buddies


My grandfather never saw duty overseas. He and the rest of his army buddies were on the train heading for the ship that was going to take them to Europe to fight when the Armistice was signed on 11 Nov. 1918.

When I was at home with my Dad last month after Mom’s funeral I was packing up my suitcase to head for the airport when my Dad walked in the room and handed me this medal.

ww1 medal

The medal is my Grandfather’s First World War Victory Medal. Each of the Allied Nations that fought in the war produced a similar medal for every person that served in the military during the war.

* It was resolved that each of the Allied and Associated nations should issue a "Victory Medal" to their own nationals to prevent a mass exchange of commemorative awards between the nations.

* It was further resolved that all the issues would have as a common feature the figure of Victory upon the obverse.

* All were to share a common "double rainbow" ribbon.

* The ribbon to the World War I Victory Medal consists of a double rainbow, with the red joining in the center.
* The ribbon is edged with very narrow stripes of white.
* The rainbows were selected to represent a "new era" and the calm after a storm (alluding to the First World War). It also represents the combined colors of the Allies joined together in a common cause.
* The two rainbows also represent the two groupings of nations, Allied and Associated, meeting the heraldic colour for conflict and bravery.
* The use of the double rainbow also provides symmetry and balance and avoids having the ribbon confused with that of the British 1914 Star (which, although not a rainbow, is similar).

* The issue of the Victory Medal was optional and in the event the following 14 countries (from a possible 16) issued medals: Great Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Czechoslovakia (Serbia), France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Thailand (Siam), Union of South Africa and United States of America.

China & Montenegro did not issue a medal.

Poland issued an "unofficial" version

My Grandfather was very proud of his military service. He is buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery (same place as Mom is buried). He didn’t talk much about his service except to tell me how he was killed saving the life of his company commander. How he died the second time when he jumped on a grenade to save all his buddies. But these weren’t the only acts of heroism my Grandfather performed in his life. He was killed at Little Bighorn fighting along side General Custer, which must have been pretty embarrassing because he was also a blood brother to the Indian Chief Crazy Horse. He died in WWII when he jumped in front of a bullet that would have killed General Patton. He died again fighting the Japanese in the south pacific.

My Grandfather was always my hero as a kid, and it had nothing to do with the number of time he died.


Anonymous said...

I really don't think you mean that your Grandfather was killed at all those places do you?

If so, that was extraordinary!

My grandfather was also in WWI - he has the same medal.

David said...

Yes that is exactly what I meant.

Grandpa told me so himself. He was very brave, very heroic, and every one of his stories ended with his dying.

Anonymous said...

my Great Grandfather has the same medal but instead of the plain ribbon it has 4 small medal plates across it which reads
*Aisne - Marne
*ST. Mihiel*
*Meuse - Argonne*
*Defense Sector*
Do you what theses mean?

sueon said...

My grandfather has the same medal also along with one metal plate that reads St. Mihiel Defensive Sector. I know for sure that St. Mihiel is a town in France, so try looking that up along with the other names you mention. My guess is he fought in those cities.

David said...

Those are the major battles he, or his unit fought in during the war.

shows many of the victory medals with several of the battle stars on them.