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Company K Men In Thick of Battle

The following from Saturday's Des Moines Register will interest Plymouth County people because about 75 of the old Co. K boys went to France, with the 168th Infantry and are about equally divided between Headquarters company and K company of the organization. A number of men of the 168th have been returning to the general hospital at Des Moines and this story is typical of what they all tell:  "Two One Hundred Sixty-eighth men in a contingent of seventy-one men, arrived at the general hospital at Fort Des Moines for treatment yesterday.

Private John Penton, company K, Corning, Ia, hobbling on crutches and carrying his arm in a sling was the first overseas man to walk into the receiving office. Penton has ten shrapnel wounds and a shrapnel torn arm and leg, but he says that is nothing so long as one is in the home state. Company K suffered the most casualties at Chateau Thierry.

"We were advancing in an open field in the face of a withering artillery barrage from the Germans", said the wounded lad. "We had been ordered to take the place of the First battalion of which Company B is a part. It was the first day of the drive and I hadn't been in the battle but a short time until I was struck by shrapnel. It seemed to me that I was hit by shells in every part of my body. It knocked me out, but old Company K got there just the same."

The last boys I saw at the front were Robert McKee and Roflie Ellis of Corning. The boys are litter bearers and they certainly know what shrapnel is. When we were back on the Champagne front, McKee won the admiration from the company for his daring and bravery. There was not a barrage too thick that would stop McKee. He carried those boys in when it didn't seem as if he had one chance for his life.

Lieut. James Cotter of Corning was wounded the third day of the drive and is still in the hospital in France. Sergt. Charles H. Allen and Corp.

Roscoe Shively are also wounded and in hospitals.

Rennie Moore, who suffered a thumb wound, has been discharged from a hospital in Vichy, France, and has rejoined his company.

Corp. Frank Norris, of Gravily, Ia. had been returned to the United States for treatment.

Ben Cherry, a Washington, Ia., boy who was shot through the knee in the Chateau Thierry drive, is in a hospital over there and is expected to go back to Company K soon.

Penton says the boys of Company K idolize Major Guy Brewer. "Whenever you see the major," remarked Penton, "he is always at the head of his men. I saw him the first day of the drive at Chateau Thierry and believe me, that man ought to be decorated for every battle in which the One Hundred and Sixty-eighth has been in. He is not afraid of anything."

Frank Jones, or "Kokomo", as the boys have affectionately dubbed him, is still cooking for the boys from Corning. Jones became popular with the boys a year ago, when the K Company organized at Corning. Jones refused to stay behind when his son, bugler Phillip Jones, enlisted and when the boys left for France, the old man was right along, too. Phillip was gassed on the Lorraine front and is still in a hospital, but the father when last seen at Chateau Thierry was still handing out "chow" to the boys.

Dwight Long, of Washington, Ia., was in the same hospital ward as Penton. He was wounded in the shoulder and leg, but was able "to walk around" when Penton left.

Corp. C.J. Melvin, Company L, a Sioux City boy, says, there is not much left of his company. Melvin received a gunshot wound in his foot at Chateau Thierry and says, "He is lucky at that".

Chaplain Robb, according to this Sioux City boy, is the hero of the day among the Iowans over there.

"I saw Robb go out and bring four dead boys in and bury them under the heaviest shell fire that we had to endure," said Melvin. "He is a stretcher bearer, a chaplain and anything that the time requires when we are in a battle. We were all glad when he received a distinguished service cross".

Lieutenant Colonel Tingley, of Council Bluffs, comes in for his share of praise from the boys also. The boys say he stays continually under shell fire, scorning dugouts and other places of safety and they predict that he will be cited again as he was on the Lorraine front, if he is lucky and stays in the game.


~source: LeMars Sentinel Newspaper, LeMars, Plymouth Co., Iowa; 22 October  1918


-Submitted by Linda Ziemann
Iowa GenWeb County Coordinator, Plymouth, Monona, Sioux counties http://www.iagenweb.org
Iowa Old Press IAGenWeb Special Project Co-coordinator http://www.iowaoldpress.com/index.html