By Fred S. Ferguson………………..
A correspondent of the United Press was present when Iowa
boys went over the top in a trench raid on March 9. He has
written a story for his association and it has been printed in
daily papers all over the country. The story refers to Capt.
Lloyd D. Ross and Capt. Chas. J. Casey, and their men, and
says they are heroes of the first class. The Sun first
received the story from the New York Mail, sent by Roy T.
Pryor, a former Red Oak man, but it has since been printed in
dailies closer to home. It is as follows:
“WITH THE AMERICAN ARMY NEAR LUNEVILLE,” ……………
March 12 (By Mail). —If out of the toil, the sacrifices and
the confusion of this war, you have not got a thrill; have not
been stirred by the thought that the spirit of the men of
Lexington, and of those who opened the West and fought the
civil war still lives—then you should see American boys go
over the top.
You should talk to them upon their return. Your respect
for what is in the heart and soul of the man, who left the
desk next to your block to come over here, will become
greater, and you’ll realize that in the farmer boy you are
passing, a hero.
Passing a hero who has only to be put to the test to show
the qualities first displayed by his grandfather or
great-grandfather who helped to build the nation.
It was after the big raid against the German lines of
March 9. The United Press automobile was hidden away behind a
building. It was waiting for an Iowa farmer.
He was sitting at a rough wood table writing out a report
of what had happened the night before for his superior
officer. His lieutenant colonel called him “Charlie” and
patted him affectionately on the shoulder.
The Iowa farmer was Capt. Charles Casey. His home is in
Villisca. His massive shoulders were bent far over the table
as he wrote a plain, colorless statement to the effect that he
and his men left their trenches at 5:05 the afternoon before;
that all objectives were reached, and that they had returned
to their own lines on scheduled time.
It was what would be called a “minor operation” in a
military sense—merely a raid. But this is a super war and
during the brief time the operation lasted it was probably as
violent as Americans have ever seen.
How the men vaulted over the parapets, how they passed
through a hell of fire, found the woods, trenches and dugout
of the Germans demolished by artillery, human flesh splattered
against the side of trees and hanging from ragged limbs; how
an airplane swooped down on them until the grinning face of
the aviator plying his machine gun could be seen—all this has
The boys who went through this are simple farmers boys
again, through in uniform and in a soldier’s billet. The men
who led them are simply Americans, such as live all about you.
Capt. Casey finished his report. The United Press machine
was waiting to take him to a little shattered town farther
back of the lines where he has a bar room, the plaster knocked
from its walls in spots, the exterior nicked and torn. For a
time it is home—a place to rest.
“All right, let’s go,” and Casey handed his report to the
colonel, saluted and started for the door.
“The boys were great, weren’t they?” the Iowa farmer said,
as the car headed for the open road.
“It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life—that
blowing the whistle that sent them over. I know they wanted to
go, every one of them. They were spoiling for it. But to look
out there, to know what they were going into—by George, it was
“We’re all from the same county, you know, and there
wasn’t a yellow one in the bunch. Two boys left behind to see
that every one went over had nothing to do, and ran as hard as
they could from one dugout to another on their inspection so
Have you seen the old man?
The “old man” is Capt. Ross, also from Red Oak. He is
beyond forty. His thinning hair is streaked with gray, and his
face lined by work and study. He led another raiding party
that entered the German lines, not far from where Casey and
his men went in.
Ross had not been seen, but the machine turned off at the
next road, winding and twisting through a forest and down a
steep hill until it came into another village.
“I just want to shake the old man’s hand,” mused Casey.
“He didn’t have to come over here, of course, but he’s a
Up a flight of rickety stairs and into a big bare room and
there was Capt. Ross. His gray eyes were tired. He was sitting
at an open window. The warm rays of the afternoon sun poured
in. On the window sill was a map spread out before him.
“I was just looking over last night’s party as it appears
on paper.” Ross explained as he arose, “I guess I’ll keep this
as a sort of souvenir.”
He was told that Capt. Casey was downstairs. His eyes
Then, standing in the middle of the street, their clothes
torn and tattered by German barbed wire, their hands and faces
still soiled, an Iowa merchant and an Iowa farmer clasped
hands. All about them were other Americans. There was joking
and laughter as group after group of these boys passed by.