There were between forty and fifty million people killed during the war. Repeat that. Forty to Fifty million people, including civilians and soldiers.
This is the story of one: Henry Nicholas Gunther.
Gunther was born on June 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland to German immigrant parents. He grew up practicing the Catholic religion working in the service order for layman. He was trained as a bookkeeper and worked in a bank until the war. He was drafted into the 313th infantry regiment, which was part of the 157th Brigade of the 79th infantry division. The 313th was nicknamed "Baltimore's Own".
The 313th arrived in France in July, 1918, and entered combat and engaged the enemy on September 12, 1918 in the battle of the Meuse-Argonne, which was the last major offensive of the war that broke the back of the Germany-Austria-Hungary alliance and ended the war.
Henry Gunther was assigned to Company A of the 313th, and they fought at the front lines of the battle. At about 10: 00 a.m., one morning, Gunther's company approached a German roadblock manned with a machine gun outside the village of Chaumont-devant-Damvillers.
Sergeant Earnest Powell ordered Gunther to fix his bayonet and charge the Germans. Gunther did as ordered and a burst of machine gun fire struck him down and killed him.
Gunther's death certificate lists that he died at 10:59 a.m., on November 11, 1918. Yes, Gunther was the last United States solider to die in World War I. He was twenty-three. The armistice had been signed at 5:00 a.m. the morning of November 11. It was to take effect at 11:00 am. The Germans in the roadblock were aware of the pending peace, and they tried to wave off Gunther as he charged, but he continued to charge until he was shot and killed.
General of the Army Black-Jack Pershing mentioned Gunther on November 12, 1918, in his orders of the day as the last American to die for his country. Gunther was promoted to sergeant, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Divisional Citation for Gallantry In Action.
Henry Nichols Gunther, a kid from Baltimore; born of immigrant parents who raised their son in their church; son, and American Solider who followed ordered and gave his life for his country so that we may enjoy the blessings of peace he and his brothers secured. He was and is an American Hero that has largely been forgotten by history. There are over hundred thousand others like him, as the United States lost 116,708 soldiers in the Great War.
This article is about a tale of two men.
Henry Nicholas Gunther was the last man to die for his country when he followed orders and charged a roadblock manned with a machine gun. His unit was in action on the front lines for fifty-nine days. He fought in trenches, slept in dirt fox-holes. ate cold food, was bombed and shot at and eventually died.
On November 11, 2018, one hundred years to the day Henry Nicholas Gunther died, the President of the United States would not leave his hotel room to attend the services and honor the dead at the Aisne Marne American cemetery where United States soldiers who died in the brutal battle of Belleau Woods are interred. There is a wall in the cemetery with the names of one thousand and sixty US soldiers who went missing in the battle and whose bodies were never found.
The reason given for the President not honoring the American dead? It was raining.
A tale of two men.