How the Writer Discovered the Madison Stories

Born in 1898 in Hamilton, World War I veteran Lloyd Evans enlisted in the Marine Corps and was sent to France in 1917. Evans wrote letters home that were published in local newspapers describing his life in the trenches, being in the middle of a mortar attack. and other first-hand accounts – sharing his personal experiences to vividly describe the daily life of a Marine during the war.

A few decades later, World War II veteran Donald MacArthur was born in 1920 in Wampsville and spent his early days in Oneida. He joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942 to serve in the Pacific. While on leave, MacArthur was interviewed and revealed the scenes he saw during their raids. He also described being on the other end of a raid as their own airfield was under attack, talking about how scary it was to hide in those foxholes.

Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz commemorated these and many other stories of service and sacrifice by area veterans in his new book, “Honoring World War Casualties of Madison County, New York.”

Urtz recalled in 2016 that he decided he wanted to write a paragraph about every World War I soldier who died in service to preserve their memory. He said his goal was to share a bit of their background, where they came from and their upbringing, family and military history. But then he discovered that many stories were so interesting that they just couldn’t fit into a single paragraph. He expanded his writing to include World War II veterans and found a publisher equally interested in featuring those stories.

He started the book in 2017. Working from home during the early part of the pandemic, Urtz said he then found time to “hide and finish it.” His research led him to visit libraries, historical societies, museums and the Madison County Veterans Agency for newspaper articles, obituaries and military records and he met with historians throughout the county. of Madison.

Urtz found himself with the stories of more than 190 Madison County-bound veterans who were killed in action, or later died from wounds they received, during both World Wars.

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“There are a lot of really gripping stories that are full of heroism and sadness; there are also stories that are just plain devastating,” Urtz said. “A soldier and his wife died in a car accident shortly after returning to the United States on his way home for demobilization, leaving behind a young daughter.”

The most compelling aspect he found in his research was that every community in Madison County was affected in some way by the wars, Urtz added.

“A soldier from Canastota was able to stop a German sniper. Smithfield had a soldier on the USS Arizona who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, while another soldier on the USS Arizona from Chittenango was listed as dead after the attack but he actually survived.Madison had one soldier who survived on a ship that was torpedoed, only to die on another ship that was torpedoed shortly after.Two brothers from Morrisville who served in the medical corps died within weeks of each other. A soldier from Cazenovia after being shot continued to talk to squad leaders and give orders until his last breath,” he said. declared.

Madison County historian Matthew Urtz's new book

Urtz will make several public presentations of the book in the coming months, including tours at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Canastota Public Library, 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Town of Nelson Hall, and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9. 15 at the Oneida Public Library.

He noted that he had a personal family connection to veterans who served in the World Wars, which inspired him to complete the book and share their stories.

“Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, so I felt the need to make sure we remembered the sacrifices these men and women made,” Urtz explained. “I think over time these stories get lost and I hope that in some way it will help people for generations to come to remember the sacrifice that men and women made during wars. world.”

What happened to veterans Evans and MacArthur?

Evans wrote a letter to his mother on May 24, 1918 saying there was a reason he hadn’t written much lately and would explain later. He died on June 17, 1918 at the age of 19 from wounds received in France. Evans is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Hamilton and Lloyd V. Evans American Legion Post 375 in Hamilton is named in his honor.

MacArthur’s plane was shot down on January 2, 1944 in the South Pacific and his remains were never found. He was only 23 years old. MacArthur is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Published by The History Press, an imprint of Arcadia Publishing, “Honoring World War Casualties of Madison County, New York” retails for $23.99 and officially goes on sale August 8. It is available on Amazon or from Urtz himself during his public appearances.

Mike Jaquays is the community reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at[email protected].