KORD Remembers Pasco’s WWI Veterans
The United States entered World War I in 1917 — 95 years ago this month — sending more than 4 million men to join the 55 million soldiers from around the world battling since 1914.
At least 313 Franklin County residents served in World War I. City View Cemetery (home to veteran graves going all the way back to the Spanish American War and Civil War) has 26 white, uniform headstones for World War I veterans who lived long lives after coming home. At least two locals, Sgt. Schmidtman of Pasco and George Kalkwarf of Mesa, were killed in battle.
According to the Pasco Herald, when men were called to war the community paraded with them to the courthouse or the depot. Under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Gus Bertholet and her Red Cross Canteen Women they were served doughnuts, coffee, and sandwiches as they embarked onto the troop trains that steamed out. The names of those called up to service or fallen were printed on the front page of the Herald. Residents knitted socks, held food drives, and bought war bonds to support the troops. Locals ate more potatoes, collected tin, and Pasco restaurants “Hooverized” by observing meatless, wheatless days to support the war effort.
The Pasco Herald periodically published letters from local soldiers such as this one by a recently wounded Harold Kirk from August 6, 1918.
“Dear Mom & Dad: You may have seen my name in the wounded-in-action list and you may be worrying… The doctor says it’s a good clean gun shot wound and coming along fine. I lost no blood and have no pain, until they dressed my wound after the operation. The bullet didn’t hit a bone which was lucky, but just made a clean hole just above the left knee… You have read about what we are doing just now, but words can’t tell it. I have seen German helmets, equipment, shells in piles and piles where they were left in the retreat or rather the fight. They thought we were kids because our faces were clean shaven, but now they know how “kids” can fight. The French know “kids” can fight. The French even said we were crazy for going so fast, but it was speed that was needed… Don’t worry – I’m feeling just fine. I hope and expect it to end soon (the war, I mean.) Things look better than ever before. With love, Harold Kirk”
This information was taken from an article by Gabriele Sperling with the Franklin County Historical Society open noon to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and by appointment.
Franklin County Historical Society
305 North Fourth Avenue, Pasco
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