Tuesday, May 31, 2016

He Gave All for Eternity

This Memorial Day, after visiting the graves of family members, Hubby and I set off to find a special grave in the cemetery.

I first became aware of Orin Snyder when I was browsing through some old historical 'company' magazines called The Midwest Review published by Midwest Refining Company in the early 20th century. There was a photo of him riding a bronc and he was mentioned in several Review's as having been a great cowboy.  It also said he was killed in action during World War I.

Through the years I have gathered small tidbits about him.  He was born in 1897 in Lost Cabin, Wyoming (Fremont County).  The family originally worked on the J. B. Okie ranch but later homesteaded a small place near Badwater.  Apparently one of the neighbors took exception with the location of their homestead and the father, Ora, pulled a gun on him in an altercation, which was reported in the Natrona County newspapers at the time.  It appears the contentious co-existence continued for several years.

Eventually, the family moved to a place on Castle Creek near Midwest, Wyoming.   There are numerous references to Orin and he was a popular young man.  He is mentioned as visiting in Arminto, and also back in Badwater.  Today there is a reservoir on what I assume is their old homestead known as Snyder Reservoir.  There was also a town called Snyder that the father started in approximately 1923.  It never had a post office and was never a going concern so faded from existence.  Interesting in 1923, the BLM awared Orin's father the homestead he had filed on before leaving for France.  Was that where the town Snyder was?

This is the photo from the Natrona paper that announced his death in 1918:

The accompany article stated:
Casper Daily Tribune no. 310
October 18, 1918
Front Page

He Gave the Boche Hell While He Lasted and His Pal Took Machine-Gun That Sent Him West

Less than an hour before he "went west" while assisting in operations against a machine-gun nest near Croix Rouge Farm late in July, Private Orin Snyder, son of Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Snyder of Salt Creek, epitomized the spirit of the American soldier when he scribbled a last note to his family saying:

"We are on a mighty lively front. Don't know whether we will get out of it or not. Will give them hell as long as I last."

Private Harry H. Brown of Company C, 167th Infantry, also of Salt Creek and a close friend of Snyder's, received a letter of commendation for extraordinary bravery in leading a charge against and capturing the machine gun which claimed the life of his pal.

Memorial services for Orin Snyder, held at Salt Creek on Sunday last, speak in eloquent appreciation of his service and sympathy in his loss. As the Rev. R. H. Moorman spoke of his sacrifice, he was "An American Indeed." 

Orin was the first boy from the Salt Creek area out of 88 who went, to be killed in action.  There were numerous memorials for him around the area.   At first he was buried in France and then in 1921, his body and that of Guy C. Burson, the first killed from Casper, were brought back to the area for burial. Both were buried in Highland Cemetery, Casper, Wyoming, with full military honors.

Several articles are found about the memorials and in 1918,  his dad says Orin asked for his opinion if he should go or not.   His dad advised him, "Son, I won't stand in your way.  Your Dad has no coyote blood and I know his son hasn't."

Orin I. Snyder
167th INF, 42nd DIV
August 30, 1897
July 26, 1918
He gave All for Eternity

Note that this headstone is NOT a military headstone but a private headstone.  The other soldier buried at the same time with full military honors, Guy C Burson, also has a private headstone.  I suspect the George Vroman American Legion Post purchased both headstones.

It is distressing that after almost one hundred years, Orin's is almost illegible.   It took Hubby and I quite a while to read the last line. I am going to locate the Burson headstone and note it's condition and then see what can be done to restore them.

Orin perished from machine gun fire during the Croix Rouge Farm battle.  There is a memorial on site in France and a lot of information on the battle.  It states: "
July 26, 1918
“…the 167th Alabama assisted by the left flank of the 168th Iowa had stormed and captured the Croix Rouge Farm in a manner which for its gallantry I do not believe has been surpassed in military history. It was one of the few occasions on which the bayonet was decisively used.”
– Douglas MacArthur

Sounds pretty awful doesn't it?   Orin's unit was attached to the 167th Alabama which was known as the "Rainbow Division" because it had men from 43 States in it, most of which were state units.

The website for information on the battle is HERE.  There is a very poignant statue on the site.

As we are only two years away from the WWI Centennial, finding Orin's gravesite made it a memorable Memorial Day for me.  I left a small spray of poppies which joined the red/white/blue arrangement and Flag left by the local American Legion who decorates the graves of Veterans.

RIP Pvt. Snyder.   All gave some and some gave All.

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