Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

The Real Doughboys

Henry T. Huff

 Sgt. Thomas F. Huff (seated), Pvt Goldstein (standing) and Sgt. Gressman (seated).
Photos were taken in Luxemburg sometime in the spring of 1919.

I looked at your Honor Roll and those who had units listed were not in my fathers Division. However many of them did fight in the same battles. He always said his outfit was made up of him, who was an Indiana farm boy, plus a bunch of Pennsylvania coal miners and Texas cowboys. My father was in St. Die, St Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne offensives. The latter two being named among the battles your local heroes fought in. I should think they were close enough that they could have possibly crossed paths.

My father shared his experiences with me and I was a willing listener. Too bad we often miss such opportunities. Yes he did mention the horrors of that war, the maimed bodies, the deaths, the vermin, the discomfort of sleeping wet, cold and muddy, the fright of spending a night in a fox hole with white phosphorus, from artillery shells, falling just behind him, but he also told of laughter and the wonderment of a 19 year old boy who had never before been farther from home than he could walk or ride a horse in a day. For you see they were not doddering old men as we may think of them today, they were boys entering the prime of life.

Sgt. Thomas F. Huff, is seated at the left.  He is wearing a holstered Colt 45 automatic.  Standing beside him is Pvt. Goldstein. Then also standing is Pvt Sardc.  Seated on the right is Sgt. Gressman.
Photos were taken in Luxemburg sometime in the spring of 1919.

My father was Thomas F. Huff, born to Riley and Sarah Huff Feb 21, 1899 at Kyana Indiana. (near where I now reside) He enlisted at Fort Thomas KY and received training at Fort Bliss, TX. Was sent to the old battle field at Gettysburg Pa, to await transport.

My father and his outfit were camped on the National Park for a period of time before being shipped to France. He talked about getting passes to go into town. Could he have been coming to Emmitsburg? I suppose there is no way to find out. I do know there was a icecream parlor/soda fountain that he always talked about visiting. He and his buddies traveled there by taxi. That I do remember, but if he mentioned the town I have forgotten. I know he never mentioned it being Gettysburg. One thing for sure he was camped very near your city.

From Gettysburg he boarded the British Luxury Liner Aquitania in I believe Hoboken NJ. ( later came home on a cattle boat named the Czaritza) This was one of the bad experiences for him as he hung over the rail most of the crossing suffering from sea sickness. Arrived Nancy, France after about a week and from there began his war experience. He was a Sgt, acting as a platoon leader due to lack of sufficient commissioned officers He was a member of the 4th Platoon, I Company, 61st Infantry, 5th US Division.

Here are a few of the things I remember from our conversations.

Horror! Seeing a good friend's chest wreathed in fog and then realizing that it was water droplets being beaten from his rain wet clothes by machinegun bullets.

Extreme anger! Promising a wounded German soldier that as soon as you could, you would return with stretcher bearers for him and then upon return minutes later finding someone had executed him with a bullet between the eyes.

Sadness! Seeing hungry young French children begging for scrapings from mess kits.

Satisfaction! Helping a French family harvest their wheat crop by using a cradle to cut it while the women tied and shocked it.

Laughter! Explaining to the French Grandpa that "NO! we don't thresh wheat with a flail" and having Grandpa Frenchman tell him there was no such thing as a steam engine and separator. Then finally giving up and saying "YES! we use a flail."

Surprise! When on November 4th, seven days before wars end, taking cover in a shell hole, while waiting to cross the Muese River, getting hit in the arm by a shell fragment. He said it went "WHACK!"

Pride! Feeling of a job well done. Backed up by something he left me. In a shadow box just over my shoulder is 1 Victory Medal with 3 bars, 1 Purple Heart and a Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Pride! Personal! What I have always felt for my father.

Shame! After mustering out in New York State a black soldier from Evansville, IN asked if he would help him to make train connections back home to southern Indiana since he was unable to read and had over heard Dad say he lived an hour from Evansville. Dad said yes. Dad sat in the white only waiting rooms while the black soldier stood in the doorways of the colored waiting rooms and watched to see that Dad didn't leave without him. Till his dieing breath Dad said at least I should have sat in the colored waiting rooms with him. In any case he thought a man, regardless of color, wearing an American uniform with overseas stripes and a wound chevron was deserving of respect.

Happiness! Coming home and finding a five year old brother playing outside, scooping him up and carrying him riding on your shoulder into your mothers arms.

My father died July 1975 at age 76. A man content with who and what he was.

These were just rambling memories that I put down as they occurred to me. It's been over 30 years since I heard these stories. Post if you wish, but the pleasure for me comes from knowing someone else gives a d--n. Thanks for your interest.

I have learned from all this, your Doughboy statue was fabricated at Spencer, Indiana just about 2 hours from me.

Take pride in that wonderful statue.

Have stories of a relative's participation in World War 1?
If so, please send them to us at: history@emmitsburg.net

Revolutionary War Honor Roll
Civil War Honor Roll
World War I Honor Roll
World War II Honor Roll