The City of St. Marys will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 11:30 a.m. May 30 in Memorial Park for the Ohio Army National Guard Memorial. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
To promote the creation of an enduring memorial to the Ohio Army National Guard who have served in St. Marys since September 1, 1877, beginning with Company I, 11th Infantry Regiment (Nieberg Guards), and ending with Company B, 837th Engineer Battalion on September 1, 2020.
Many citizen soldiers from St. Marys and surrounding areas have served in the local Guard Units throughout the past 143 years. The OANG served on many fronts, including Mexican Border Service (1916), The First World War in France, and The Second World War in the Pacific. The OANG served in a supporting role during the Korean conflict and were deployed to Kuwaiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq during the War on Terrorism.
During their service, many who left St. Marys were wounded and eight made the ultimate sacrifice. It is only appropriate to honor their extraordinary service and historic presence in St. Marys with a proper monument. The monument project is funded by the City of St. Marys, but is open to private donations. Any person or organization that wishes to contribute to the project may contact the City of St. Marys Auditor’s Office at 419-394-3303 option 7.
The notion of a monument to the men and women who served in St. Marys was a result of the Ohio National Guard’s relocation to Lima after serving in St. Marys for well over a century. The St. Marys Armory was no longer a viable option for the Guard due to the age and deterioration of the Armory on East South Street; the future of the Armory is uncertain.
The idea of the monument design was to replicate the Armory’s façade and commemorate the many units who served in St. Marys, both in peace and times of war. The monument will also memorialize the names of those killed in action.
Since the original design concept, many people have contributed to the design, including the City, the Ohio Army National Guard, the 37th Division Veteran’s Association, the 148th Infantry Regiment Veteran’s Association, along with Architects and Engineers. A preliminary artist’s rendition was prepared along with final architectural plans.
The names of the combat deployed units who served in St. Marys will be on a bronze plaque affixed to the front of the monument. On the flanking pillars will be the patches, cast in bronze, of the four major commands present at the Armory. Those are the 37th Infantry Division, the 38th Infantry Division, the 73rd Infantry Brigade, and the 16th Engineer Brigade.
On the reverse will be an identical plaque containing a complete list of those units who served over the past 143 years. The flanking pillars on the reverse side will memorialize the names of the soldiers who were killed in action. There are six from the First World War and two from the Second World War.
A dedication ceremony for the new Monument will be on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2022 in Memorial Park. Guests will include keynote speakers, current and former OANG members, family members of the fallen, and over 40 people who have supported, helped plan, and contributed research on the project. The dedication ceremony will be open to the public.
The men of Company K, 2nd Infantry Regiment who were stationed in St. Marys deployed to France with the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War as part of the 37th Infantry Division. Although, upon arrival in France, the men were dispersed throughout the division, Company K men fought in at least three Campaigns, Lorraine 1918, Meuse-Argonne, and Ypres-Lys. Some fought in additional campaigns.
During their service with the AEF, six soldiers were killed:
2lt Thomas J. Weaver
Cpl. Fred Sullivan
Cpl. Jacob Weaver
PFC Earl Munch
PFC Cyrus Reed
Pvt. Harry M. Eichar
It was not a practice to photograph recruits entering service during the First World War, so finding individual photos of the soldiers who were killed in action has proved very difficult. It is believed they are all present in the Company K photos from 1914-1916, as their names appear on an accompanying roster. The photos were taken prior to Company K’s deployment for Mexican Border Service and the First World War. A photograph of Pvt. Harry M. Eichar was obtained from the Celina VFW since the Post is named after him; Eichar-De Curtins VFW Celina Post 5713
During the Second World War, there were three elements stationed at the St. Marys Armory that were deployed with the 37th Division to fight in the Pacific.
Company K, 3rd Battalion 148th Infantry Regiment
HQ Company, 3rd Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment
F Company, 112th Quartermaster Regiment
Soldiers from the Armory fought in the Northern Solomon Islands, Luzon, and the Philippines. There were many wounded and two soldiers were killed in action:
SSG. Charles V. Kettler, Company K.
Sgt. Herbert C. Linville, HQ Company
Although from separate units, both were killed on the same day while assaulting Japanese fortifications near Munda Airfield on the Island of New Georgia. Their actions that day are well documented; both were Posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action. There were many acts of bravery displayed by men of the St. Marys units while fighting in the Pacific.