MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. – Monday is a day for remembering and honoring those who have and continue to fight for the freedoms afforded to us in this country.
The American Legion Rosser C. Fraser Post 340 in Moundridge, Kan., will observe Memorial Day today at 9:30 a.m. at the Legion Memorial site at Black Kettle West Park.
The Service will begin with several musical renditions by the “Good News Trio,” a local group comprised of Kim and Dan Frye and Mitch Durst.
Following the musical performance, the speaker for the occasion will be Jim Sugars, pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of Moundridge.
A color guard and firing squad made up of members of Moundridge Legion Post 340 and veteran volunteers will perform the military honors.
The service will conclude with the play of taps by bugler Harry Crabb.
Post Commander Bob Durst said the public is cordially invited to attend this service, which honors all men and women who have served in the military, especially those who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country.
Several area cemeteries’ veterans’ graves will be decorated with small American flags.
An impressive display of an avenue of flags will be located at the west side of the Mound Township Cemetery west of Moundridge.
During this day of remembrance, it would also be pertinent to think about the local war history, specifically of how the local Legion Post got its name.
Durst said the Moundridge Post is named after a local man who fought in the Argonne Offensive of World War I. His name was Private Rosser C. Fraser.
According to a June 12, 1919 Moundridge Journal (the predecessor to The Ledger) article titled “He Sleeps In France: Pershing Wires Confirmation of Rosser Fraser’s Death,” Fraser’s status was unknown by his family for as many as nine months before his mother, J.D. Fraser who lived in Lawton, Okla., received word that her son was dead.
According to the article, he died in a hospital and was buried Oct. 8, 1918.
Fraser was severely wounded Sept. 29, 1918 in the Argonne fighting.
“Home boys heard that he had been shot through the ankle and a Paola boy, member of the same company, helped place him in the ambulance,” The Journal reported.
The interesting piece to the story, though, was that in a previous Journal article it was reported that a Congressman Ayers had found information that Fraser was still OK.
The Journal reported a telegram dated Jan. 31, 1919 said, “War department reports that your son was wounded and fully recovered from his wounds and returned to duty on Oct. 20 (1918). Evidentially he is all O.K. and will probably be home in a few months.”
Such information was confirmed by what information other Moundridge soldiers had said they had heard during the fighting. This information was relayed home via letters.
It seemed to give the community hope, but it was to no avail.
Fraser graduated from Moundridge High School in 1916 and enlisted with 14 others the outset of the war.
He as a member of Company D., 138 Infantry, 35th Division along with 11 other Moundridge men, according to archived Journal articles.
The Journal reported that Fraser was a popular person within the Moundridge community, which could have led the Legion Post being named in honor of him following his death.
“He was a young man of clean character, and his comrades knew him for his unselfishness, loyalty and bravery,” the article said. “Though he sleeps beneath French soil, the people of his old home town for whom he offered his life unhesitatingly hold his memory untarnished, as bright as the gold star that stands for him on our service flag.”
During the war, The Journal ran letters written by soldiers. It was a feature called “Letters From Our Soldier Boys,” and it provided an intimate look into the lives of the soldiers who were fighting. One letter that was found in the archives was from Herbert Regier on Nov. 25, 1918. He wrote of gas bombs dropping all around him, removing dead horses from the roadway and running into Harold Santee, which Regier wrote it “sure felt good to meet one of the home boys for a change. He is the first one I’ve seen . . .”
The Journal archives show that the newspaper did an extensive piece on Moundridge’s “first loyal son to return from France.”
It was Private Edward Krehbiel, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Krehbiel.
According to Journal reports, Krehbiel arrived by train and was met by a mob of well-wishers.
The article relayed the story of what Krehbiel went through, which included being shot in the left shoulder by an enemy sniper on Sept. 29, 1918 during the Argonne battle. Krehbiel reportedly crawled into a dugout and stayed there for nearly two days with other wounded men.
“It was an awful place to spend 48 hours, but all hell was raging outside and to a poor wounded boy it was a haven of refuge,” the article said.
The story also talked about how artillery shells were falling all around Krehbiel during the fighting, during which five men were killed and others were wounded.
“One shell burst whine a few feet of the Moundridge boy, and although his shirt was almost torn from his back by shrapnel and his cap riddled, he miraculously escaped injury,” the article said.
In the Journal article, Krehbiel explained his war experience.
“It was a dirty job, but in my mind it had to be done, and I am glad that I could do a part,” he said. “I would not take a $100,000 for my experience, but I would not like to go through it again for any money.”
Legion Post Commander Bob Durst said the area has a rich history in military service, but as generations come and go, some of the stories get lost.
Durst said he hopes many people will attend Monday’s service and become interested enough to help keep such activities going by supporting the local Legion Post, which will ensure the preservation of the local military history and the memories of those who served the United States of America.
Archived stories of The Moundridge Journal’s coverage during World War I and others can be found on microfilm at the McPherson Public Library.