Saturday, November 6, 2010
WWI Veteran Keeps Comrades' Memories Alive
Daily Iowegian - November 1985
By Denise Mart, City Editor
Ninety-year-old Hobart Norris, a World War I veteran who likes to tell stories about his tour of duty in France and about his grandfather serving in the Civil War, believes today's young people don't fully understand the significance of Memorial Day.
"I think there are too many other activities that young people are educated to, instead of going to activities put on by the organizations," Norris said, explaining that many people today look at Memorial Day Weekend as a vacation.
"We ought to be getting this new generation stimulated to the activities of the older generation, like the Memorial Day Services," he said.
On Oct. 31, 1917, Norris enlisted in a branch of the United States Army called the Quarter Master Corps.
"Military service runs in my family. And I think this (American) flag means more to a man who has served it that to one that didn't," he said.
During Norris' training in Jacksonville, Fla., he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and was assigned to teaching other enlistees how to ride horses. He said he was given this position because of his experience with horses while growing up on a farm.
In early 1918, after training ended, Norris was stationed in Saint Nazaire, France. His assignment was evacuating horses from the front line to be taken to a recuperation station near Switzerland. At this station Norris was in charge of giving the horses medical attention and feeding them until they were ready to be re-issued.
"We had to pay $285 for a horse and a man didn't cost anything, so we had to take care of the horses," he said.
After the signing of the Armistice agreement on Nov. 11, 1918, Norris was assigned to the dty of closing all final statements of solders who died during a flu epidemnic and were buried at sea, and for soldiers who had died in France.
He was given a special discharge order in June of 1919 and returned home to farm with his father.
Norris, who usually represents World War I veterans at Memorial Day Services, said he plans to attend this year's American Legion services on the town square and at Oakland Cemetery.
On Memorial Day Norris said he likes to reflect on his association with veterans, especially those whom he served with in France.
"It brings memories of the past, and makes me think I'm one of them," he said.
He said everyone should think of Memorial Day as a time to "remember the past, remember loved ones and those who served the country."
Norris lives in Centerville with his wife, Alice, and is actively involved withthe oeration of a 1,260-acre farm in Missouri.
The editor sincerely appreciates the contribution of the above article to The Jerome Journal by Gale Norris of Unionville, MO.