One hundred years ago this very day, September 26, 1918, 1.2 million U.S. and French solders under the command of General John S. Pershing, launched the largest battle in U.S. history (much larger than D-Day!), the Battle of Meuse-Argonne. It was the final battle of World War I and ended on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice. It took place along the entire Western front in France.
It was the largest and bloodiest operation of the war, leaving 26,277 Americans dead. Among them was Edward J. Goetz.
Edward was one of 10 children of Christian and Lena Goetz who lived in the Avonia area along Route 5. He had played baseball with a few local teams before the war and, according to his sister Cleo, hoped to become a professional player after the war.
Edward was newly married to Edna McCray, sister of Fairview’s famed pilot, Neil McCray (see photo above). He was drafted into Company C of the 320th Infantry, 8th Division. He was in his mid 20s.
“Edward had been serving as a messenger, carrying packets from one part of the line to another,” reported an article in the Cosmopolite Herald in the November 13, 1985 issue. During a drive in this last battle of the war he was separated from his company. The article continues, “The battles were raging then at Verdun, the Meuse River and around the little villages of Gouray and Le Catelet, where there was bitter fighting at close quarters. They ‘Hurled the Boches Back,’ announced the Erie papers, but Edward was mortally wounded.”
Some time later the bodies of Edward and two other Fairview men known to have been killed in action were returned and buried in the Fairview Cemetery. Edna McCray Goetz eventually married again… Time began to heal the wounds of the injured and of those left behind to mourn.
Now, the world approaches the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end the Great War… the War to End All Wars… World War I. What will be done to commemorate this event? Perhaps many services will be held across the world. Perhaps speeches by dignitaries to various patriotic groups will be scheduled. Veterans groups will surely plan special events.
Here at the Sturgeon House a special evening is being planned to commemorate this event. It will be open to the public. We hope it will be satisfying to those who ache for times, people and “might-have-beens” gone by.