Monday, May 28, 2012

The Uno Family's Son Albert - World War I Casualty

As I sorted through my friend's family paper work to organize their family history I separated the documents by surnames, creating a collection for each. When it came to the Uno family it was obvious that I needed to create a file just for Albert, the second son by that name, who gave his life while serving in the U.S. Army in France during World War I. The collection represents a son and brother that the family did not want to be forgotten and now fills a one-inch notebook. The first item is a medal of a cross with a band above with the word SHARPSHOOTER and the second is a ribbon connecting the bar above with the name Mrs. B Uno and below the medallion 1932, Portland, Oregon, American Legion Auxiliary with a blue star. This was an emotional moment for me as my own grandfather who was just five years younger, trained in the U.S. Army at Oregon State University towards the end of the war and never had to leave this country. War certainly changes the course of people's lives and for mothers the heartache can last forever.

The first document is an honorable discharge from the Oregon National Guard that is transcribed here:
National Guard State of Oregon
To all whom it may concern:
This is to certify, that Albert Uno a Private 1st Cls. Company B of the Third Regiment of Infantry Oregon National Guard, is hereby Honorably Discharged from the National Guard of the United States and of the State of Oregon by reason of being drafted into the United States Army, August 5, 1917.
Said Albert Uno was born in Portland, in the State of Oregon, and when enlisted was 22 years of age, by occupation a Laborer, had Blue eyes, L. Brown hair, Fair complexion, and was 5 feet 9 inches in height.
Given under my hand at Clackamas, Oregon this Fifth day of August, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen. _____________________ Colonel, 3rd Oregon Inf N.G.

On the reverse side are many details of his service. He enlisted in Portland, Oregon on September 28, 1915, for six years. He was awarded Marksmanship Sharpshooter in 1916. He served in the Mexican Border Service from June 27, 1916 to September 20, 1916. He was single, had excellent character, and was honest and faithful. There is not birth date given, and the only record found of his birth was in the 1900 US Census, where he is noted as being born in June of 1893.

The next document is the following letter from Albert sent home from France during WWI. He would not survive the war.

Letter Head: Knights of Columbus
Somewhere in France Sept. 15, 1918.
Sending mail to soldiers in France
Pay regular postage to New York and address
127 Regt. Bat. B Co. A.E.F., New York, N.Y.

Dear Mother,
I will write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and having a good time. This is the first chance I have had to write home for quite awhile.
I have received two letters from home since I wrote last. One was written July 22 and the other sometime in August. I sure was glad that you have received the allottment. On about the 5th of July I had the company clerk increase the allottment $5 a month. This increase was to commence for the month of July.
I have been in one big scrap since writing home last. The other night I met a fellow who had just come to France. I found out that he was from Portland and had been in Portland in the latter part of June. From what he said Portland must surely be busy building ships. We talked for several hours. I think he said Dr. Hedlund was his half brother.
I am enclosing some German money as a souvenier, one 2 mark note and some German postal stamps. I sure have been lucky in going through what I have and not even getting scratched. Those German soldiers are sure tired and it doesn't take a whole lot to make them surrender. They sure do get an awful punishment from the American artillery. The American infantry can sure handle them rough when they still show some fight.
I got a letter from Oscar the other day and though surprised I sure was glad to hear from him. Tell Emma that if I were home now I would help her eat those hazel nuts that took her so long to gather. Well I have about a dozen letters to answer so guess I shall have to close now.
Tell all my friends that I send them my best regards. Tell Emma and the children Hello from Al.
With love from your son Albert.
Pvt. Albert Uno, Co. B 127 Inf.,  American E.F., A.P.O. 734
Cleared for sending: O.K. Wm. E. Pau, 2nd Lt. 27th Inf

Albert Uno died on the 22nd of October 1918, just one month after writing the above letter. His mother Britta received the following certificate:
Certificate from United States Army in Memory of
Private 1st Class Albert Uno Co. B 127th Infantry who died October 22nd 1918. He bravely laid down his life for the cause of his country, his name will ever remain fresh in the hearts of his friends and comrades. The record of his honorable service will be preserved in the archives of the American Expeditionary Forces. John J. Pershing Commander in Chief

His mother received the following letter date stamped 21 Dec 1918.
American Expeditionary Forces, Headquarters Services of Supply Office of the Chief Quatermaster, A.E.F., Graves Registration Service.
To Mrs. Brita Uno, 1163 E. 11th St., Portland, Oregon
Subject: Place of Burial:
Private Albert Uno, Co. B, 127th Infantry
Died 10/22/18
American Cemetery at Neaves, Nievre.
This form letter was accompanied by a list of Information for the Friends of our Dead, providing advice about the official policies on foreign gravesites.

Brita actually wrote on November 24, 1918 to inquire about the death of her son and received the following letter in return:
Dear Madam:
I have your letter of November 24th, concerning the sad death of your son. Your son was injured on the Verdun front October 5th, 1918, by being shot in the leg during a hault after a charge by a machine gun bullet. He was immediately taken to one of the front line hospitals and sent back here about four days later. His wound was doing well and we expected his recovery, until suddenly, one day, a severe hemorrhage took place in the wound, from which he died in spite of an operation consisting of tieing the bleeding vessels.
Your son did not expect to die until the last moment so he left no word of his people. As you will see from the enclosed he did write a few days before his death, but whether or not it ever reached you we do not know.
I remember him personally very distinctly, and he was a fine young man, and his death was a great loss to the army. With sincere sympathy, I am,
Very truly yours, Jonathan N. Wainwright

There are other documents dealing with the red tape of her claims to his allotment, insurance benefits and other compensation. There are two letters from the Red Cross, one dated Jan. 22, 1919 confirming the information about his death, the other dated Jan. 31, 1919. She had written to them wanting to make sure that this truly was her son who had died.

On February 22, 1920 Brita attended the America and France program of the Portland, Oregon Post No.1 American Legion. Albert Uno is listed on the Honor Roll in the program. On May 9, 1932 she received an invitation from the Gold Star Committee, Portland Unit No. 1, American Legion Auxiliary to attend a program for the Gold Star Mothers to be held at the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club on May 17. She was most cordially invited and urged to be present, even being offered transportation. Enclosed was an article published by the Oregonian on March 30, 1932 describing the program. There is a list of the seventy-five mothers including Mrs. Brita Uno, 1763 E. 11th St. (Sellwood). She is one of a few without a telephone listing or birth date. She was also invited to participate in the Pilgrimage to Europe, all expenses to be paid by the U.S. Government.   

How do ever calculate the great value of the men, young and older, fathers, sons, husbands, friends, neighbors, etc., who have given their lives in defense of world peace? Even those who return home pay a huge personal cost in military service. On this Memorial Day may we pause to truly remember why this day was initiated and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Visit a cemetery and take in the full impact to the families of those who served. Share this history with your children so their names will ever remain fresh in the hearts of friends, comrades, and the nation. It is with pleasure that I pay honor to Private 1st Class Albert Uno Co. B 127th Infantry who died October 22nd 1918. His burial information is found at lists his service in the American Soldiers of World War I and his mother Brita's involvement in the U.S. World War I Mother's Pilgrimage 1930.

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