By Don McAlavy
Memorial Day, observed on Monday, is upon us. This is the day we honor our veterans who lost their lives in service to our country.
I’ve chosen to tell you about soldiers from Clovis and Grier who fought in World War I and were killed in France fighting the German army.
Tom Lucas’ family received a telegram on Sept. 28, 1918, announcing son Dean Lucas had been killed in action in France. Dean was a machine gunner. Here’s how one of his buddies described the battle at Chateau Thierry on that day:
“Our outfit was moving up to go into action. Dean and I were in the same platoon. Before we had gone very far we ran into the German artillery fire. Our platoon was deployed, and then it seemed like all hell broke loose, the shells were falling so thick. It seemed that everyone had taken cover but Dean and I and I turned to him and said, ‘Let’s dig in.’ He replied, ‘What’s the use?’
“Dean had hardly finished speaking when a piece of shell struck him. He fell into my arms and as I laid him down he asked me to take his shirt off, then he became unconscious. I saw them carrying him off the field before I moved forward with the platoon. An attendant told me he could not live.
“After the fight, when we were moved back to a rest camp some time later, I found a grave marked with Dean’s dog tag. It was just east of Chateau Thierry.”
Dean Lucas was honored by the American Legion in Clovis, which named Post 25 after him.
Charles Wilson Ledbetter was the oldest of six children born to James and Rebecca Ledbetter. They came from Tennessee via Texas and Oklahoma and finally to Curry County in 1907 where they homesteaded two miles east and one south of Grier.
Charles’ brother was George Ledbetter, the husband of Mamie Lee Duke. (I told of the tragedy of her parents in last week’s column.)
Charles at one time was the postmaster in Grier, and prior to being drafted into the Army was a school teacher at the Caprock School north of Bellview in the northern part of Curry County.
Just four days before the Armistice, which was on Nov. 11, 1918, Charles and two other soldiers where hit by a German shell. Can you imagine the anguish of his family receiving the telegram telling of his death just prior to the end of that terrible war?
He was buried near where he fell, and later his body was brought home in a coffin and buried in Griffith Square in Memorial Garden of Memories on West Seventh. He died on Nov. 7, 1918. His age: 22 years, 10 months, and one day. He was a corporal.
Charles Ledbetter and Verdie J. McReynolds were honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3015, named after these two brave soldiers.
Names of 170 American war casualties from Curry County are being honored at the memorial services on the south side of the Clovis-Carver Public Library at 11 a.m. Monday.
Four 1,000-pound standing stones over six-feet high are now carved with these war casualties’ names on them.
Some relatives of these casualties will be in attendance and some will pull the coverings off the stones of their loved ones.