I Will REmember...
Today, on Memorial Day 2019, I want to remember a young man that made the ultimate sacrifice 100 years ago.
My Great-Grandmother Florence was one of the sweetest ladies I will ever have the honor of knowing. (And if only I had the privilege of meeting her mother, my Great-Great Grandmother, Maggie--I have uncovered so many incredible stories of determination & survival & her loving heart can even been seen through her eyes in distorted pictures.) My Great-Grandma Florence lived to be a vibrant 102 years & kindness was something she practiced for each of those many years, so I constantly ask her to guide me through my journey. She had an older brother that was described to have a similar temperament & he didn't make it home from WWI, so today I honor him.
His name is Claude Dudley Tunnell. He was 25-years-old when he was drafted to serve in the Great War, shortly after the US joined it's allies. Even though he wasn't extremely young, he was just starting his adult life to continue his family's values.
He was assigned to the 30th Infantry of the US Army. After 6 months overseas," the 30th Infantry was in the front lines from Oct 5 to Oct 24th, 1918, in the Meuse-Afgonne offensive. Due to the nature of the fighting at that time, it was impossible to keep an accurate check on personnel engaged. On October 24, the organization was relieved & an accurate check was made. Pvt. Claude Tunnell was not present or accounted for. No one had seen him wounded or knew his whereabouts. The last Pvt. Tunnell was seen by members of his company was about Oct 10, 1918." The letter to his parents was written by his Company Commander and his closing was that "Pvt. Tunnell was an excellent soldier, always willing & ready to do his duty under all circumstances. He was well known & liked by his comrades... He was of the opinion that Pvt Tunnell was wounded, killed, or captured." Like many others, the end of his life is not really known & his mother had to fight diligently to find out what happened to him, though she didn't get many concrete answers. It took her 9 long months of persistent letter writing to get a final determination of his death & most of that was based on assumptions.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. The battle costs 26,277 American lives & it was the deadliest campaign in American history, surpassing the Invasion of Normandy. With numbers that large, it would be so easy for my uncle to be forgotten. Like Macklemore says in "Glorious", "I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name. So when I leave here on this earth, did I take more than I gave?" Today, I continue to mention Claude Dudley Tunnell's name & I hope his story continues past my life through these stories. He definitely gave much more than he took & even though the end of his life probably didn't seem too glorious, I'm here to say it truly was GLORIOUS.
Thank you so much to all the many men & women who have served this great country of ours. God bless YOU and God bless the USA!