As we remember our fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day, there is one we would like to highlight today. Theobald Lungwitz, a resident of East Perry County, lost his life during World War I.
Theobald was the son of Herman and Mathilda (Meyr) Lungwitz of Altenburg. He was born on April 16, 1891 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church by Rev. Roesener. When Theobald was 19 years old, he was working as a farm hand on the Henry Zerbst farm in Fountain Bluff, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River.
In 1917, we find Theobald working on the Herman Rehling farm in Beemer, Nebraska. This little town is located in Cuming County. In several past posts, it has been noted that quite a few young men from Perry County moved to that area during this era. It was there that he registered for the World War I draft. Here is that registration form.
Theobald was called up and after going through boot camp, was sent overseas. I am guessing that this photo was taken of him before he left the States.
One thing we discovered while researching this story is that we have this photo misidentified in our military exhibit. Theodore Lungwitz was Theobald’s older brother. We are going to have to get this corrected.
This passenger list on a ship called Medic shows him along with many other soldiers from Nebraska leaving New York on June 29, 1918, headed for battle.
As it turns out, Theobald ended up participating in what has been described as the bloodiest battle in American history. It was known as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive or the Battle of the Argonne Forest. The battle was fought from September 26, 1918 until November 11th which marked the end of the war. November 11th is called Armistice Day, and now is celebrated as Veterans Day in our country.
Theobald did not make it to the end. On October 27th, he lost his life in battle. He was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. However, in 1921, his remains were transported back to the United States. Here is a transport list of the ship Wheaton that carried Theobald’s remains back to America.
Theobald would then be buried with so many others at Arlington National Cemetery near our country’s capital. Here is his grave marker there.
Theobald died about two weeks before the end of World War I. He was one of 26,277 Americans who lost their lives in the Battle of the Argonne Forest. It was the efforts of these men along with the many others who survived that battle who brought this horrible war to an end. Theobald almost made it. If he would have lived two more weeks, he may have been able to celebrate the way these soldiers in this short video did when they found out the war was over.
The following website has an amazing collection of photos that were taken during World War I. Scroll down the page and click on Images and Videos.
According to the above website, this photo was taken on the day of Theobald’s death on October 27, 1918.
We have our freedom in this great country of ours because so many men and women have served in our military to safeguard it. Many of them gave their lives for it. I leave you on this special day of remembrance with these words of President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address:
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”