November 11, 2013

Honoring All Who Served

We have quite a few relatives who served in various wars.  Because of the service of my ggg grandfather, Michel Bourque/Burke who fought under Jonathan Eddy to retake Fort Cumberland, I am a Daughter of the American Revolution.

My father-in-law, Philip/Fillipo Consentino served in the Navy in WWI.  Imagine being on those ships in the early 1900s!

My husband Anthony A. Consentino followed in his father's footsteps and also served in the Navy as the Korean Conflict was winding down.  A musician, he played in the Navy Band in Washington, D.C., Kodiak, Alaska, New York attaining rank of Musician First Class, Solo Clarinetist, Lead Alto Saxophone, Director of the Dance Band.  He holds a Bachelor degree in Music Education from Lowell State College which is today University of Massachuetts, a Master of Music from Boston University and is a graduate of the Navy School of Music.

I have many cousins who served in various branches of the military during WWII.  They were all older than me but I remember well seeing them in their uniforms.  Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force.  My brother-in-law served in the Air Force and made a career of it.

Today, I would like to share with you my father's service as well as my research on his service so I could document as much as possible the role he played in World War I.

My father served proudly in World War I. He was a Wagoner in the 26th Yankee Division - 102nd Supply Company.

On April 13, 2002 I went to Hartford, Connecticut with our daughter Sarah who was attending a workshop. While she went to the workshop, I went to the Hartford Public Library. I found an old book entitled: "Service Records Connecticut Men and Women in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War 1917 - 1920" published by the Office of the Adjutant General, State Armory, Hartford, Connecticut. What a find!

This book contains the names of all who served in the military from the various Connecticut cities and towns. In the Hartford portion on page 1204, my father is listed as follows:

"WHITE, GEORGE C. 66,586, White - Hartford, Conn. - Enlisted NG Hartford, Conn, June 7, 1917. Br (born) New Bedford, Mass, 21 yrs. Sup Co 1 Inf CNG (Sup Co 102nd) to disch (discharge). Wag (wagoner) June 8, 1917. AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) Nov 13, 1917 to Apr 7, 1919. Hon disch (Honorable discharge) Apr 29, 1919." (My father had changed his LeBlanc name to White until he asked my mother to marry him.)

The 26th Yankee Division returned from France in April 1919 and was demobilized in May 1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts. Thanks to the Zazzle Company I have a photo of the demobilization.

The 26th INFANTRY DIVISION -- The YANKEE Division in WWI and WWII. Formed by the assimilation of dozens of militia units from throughout New England, the 26th was first assembled as the 26th Infantry Division in August 1917 and was thus called the Yankee Division. The heroic 26th achieved fame at Belleau, St. Miihiel, Verdun and the Marne.

During WWI Wagoners were like truck drivers. The name Wagoner is a hold over from the old horse days. Wagoners drove trucks that supplied the battery with ammunition, powder and other supplies that the battery needed.

World War I Draftees were registered on 5 June 1917, on 5 Jun 1918 and on 12 September 1918. This draft included males 21 to 30 who were not already serving in the military, regardless of their declared nationality. Men older than 30 and younger than 21 sometimes registered for the draft, but their registration was not required. 

On my father's tombstone at Veterans' Lot at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Lawrence, Massachusetts we read the following:

George C. LeBlanc - Massachusetts - Wagoner 102 INF 26 DIVISION - World War I - September 30, 1896 - September 6, 1956. Though the tombstone says "Massachusetts" he was living in Hartford when he enlisted and was living there when discharged.
Thanks to my mother, today I am proud to have my father's Victory Medal with four clasps. The clasps represent the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector offensives.

I was able to find an image of the WWI Victory Medal online and post here so you can see what it looked like. This one has only two claps versus the four my father's medal has.

My father never talked about his experiences in the war and it seems like none of the servicemen from that era did. It was indeed one of the worse wars but then, all wars are the worse.

As I child I remember playing with his helmet he had kept. I've often wondered whatever became of that. Of course, I am also very fortunate to have my father's World War I enlistment and discharge papers. These papers tell their own story as to my father's service. I never realized just how fortunate I was to have these papers until I wrote to the Military asking for a new copies since these are beginning to fade. The response was that my father's military records had burned in a fire some years ago when many military records were also destroyed. What a loss!  Recently there has been news that the records are being reconstructed.  That would be great.

To all of our Veterans, whatever war they fought in or whether they served during peace time, we are forever grateful. They have been and are our watchful Warriors who fight for the freedoms we continue to enjoy. It is just sad that all peoples around the world do not treasure freedom as we do - it is so precious!

If you know or meet a Vet, thank him or her for their service.

All Rights Reserved
Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino