The grandfather

My grandfather, Corporal Ben Stickley, was in the 42nd Infantry Division (Rainbow Division) Company F, 168th Infantry. He served 16 months in Europe and saw extensive action at Champagne, Chateau Thierry, St. Miheil and Argonne. He was gassed and had one lung severely compromised at Chateau Thierry on July 26, 1918. During his service he maintained a daily diary that I still have which highlights his experiences during his time in Europe and his service on the front lines of World War 1. He recounts going over the top and losing many of his close friends, and his amazement about surviving the horrendous battles that claimed so many of his friends. He also speaks to laying in a field on his back during a day off from the front and watching airplanes shooting at one another. Can you imagine watching such a sight, as this was the very earliest of aircraft use in war and much of those battles were with just basic weapons shooting out of open cockpits at one another? He was discharged on Feb. 1, 1919, and went about his life thinking the ravages of war were over for him. He became the first commander of American Legion Post 285 in Parkersburg, Iowa. He had two sons who both served in World War 2, with his son Ronald serving in Graves and Registration going over some of the same ground recovering and identifying fallen American soldiers that his father had been in battle on in World War 1 in France 20-plus years earlier. In 1927 Ben Stickley had taken his fellow Legion members who had fought in the war to help fellow citizens in Waterloo, Iowa, to help in a great flood in that city. He contracted a respiratory infection and passed away just a few days later because of his weakened lung from the war 10 years earlier. I often think about what it would have been like to know my grandfather, and I’m sure he would have been very proud that his sons and grandson served their country in the military. I went on to serve 20 years in the Army with service in Veitnam and belong to my local American Legion Post 353 in Oklahoma.