Jefferson Co Honor Rolls
Arsenal St near Sherman St
Watertown, Jefferson County, New York
"Honoring All Who Died For Our FreedomDuring the Twentieth CenturyJefferson County heroes who gave their lives serving their country""World War I1917 - 1918World War II1941 - 1945Korea1950 - 1953VietNam1965 - 1973"
Jefferson County is host to Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, so I was happy to be interrupted on this visit by a young couple with two children. Dad is a soldier, wearing his camo greens, and he gladly stopped to answer my questions. Yes, he had been deployed one and would soon be transferred to another unit that was on alert status for another deployment. Oddly, both parents were unaware of what the polished monument was all about.
It seems impossible to me that any service member would not be fully cognizant of every memorial in the area, but they don't. As I write this I look back on the number of times I had stopped at veterans monuments while I was in uniform - and I can count them on one hand over a period of seven years. But I came from an entirely different era - something that every veteran can say, regardless of when the service took place. During active duty we tend not to commemorate our own service other than to observe and acknowledge the sacrifices of our closest friends - those in uniform.
167 Men of Jefferson County were lost to World War I. Both they and the community equally shared the shock of the event because all of those deaths were counted in the space of just about 14 months. For that generation this monument is an essential acknowledgement of the circumstances that plunged America into war.
Thomas and Mamie Carey gave two sons in a single week - although they didn't know that till many weeks later. The oldest of the two, 30 year old Delbert, had sailed to France with Co A 312th Infantry, 78th Division, in May. He was likely killed, or taken prison after being severely wounded on October 18th. The parent learned quickly that their other son in uniform, Phillip, had died of pneumonia at Camp Upton on the 25th of October. Nothing was known of Delbert until December when notification was sent to them that he was missing, and was likely dead.
In addition to Delbert Carey, several of Watertown's men had departed in May with the 78th Division. Carl W Allen was with Company A of the 310th Infantry. He was killed on October 18 as was Henry Halliday - also fighting with Company A. Their First Lt, Edward F O'Connor was killed the day before, on October 17. And Floyd Baxter of Company E was killed on the 20th.
About 30,000 people called Watertown "home" in 1918. Imagine what it must have been for them to realized they lost five sons killed in action in just 24 hours. That was the reality of World War I - and it happened almost every day from June through November 11th of 1918 in every one of America's larger cities. These monuments truly are an expression of sorrow.
At least one Watertown household had to endure the loss of a son to something other than battlefield action or the myriad diseases that hunted the ranks. James Louis Hooker was serving at Camp Johnston in Jacksonville, Florida with Motor Truck Company 450. It was August 3rd. Summer in Jacksonville can be an overwhelmingly oppressive environment for anybody acclimated to the Great Lakes climate. Maybe that's why James committed suicide with a gunshot to his chest.
The population of Watertown rose by only 3,500 residents when World War II opened in 1941. Yet, the losses to Jefferson County numbered 412 men in the next four years.