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    Soldier with the Oklahoma Guard pays tribute to fallen relative at WWI cemetery

    Soldier with the Oklahoma Guard pays tribute to fallen relative at WWI cemetery

    Photo By Sgt. Brian Schroeder | Staff Sgt. Ashley Delisle, Oklahoma Army National Guard state awards manager, reflects...... read more read more

    2, FRANCE


    Story by Sgt. Brian Schroeder 

    Oklahoma National Guard

    SISSONNE, France – A small group of Oklahoma Army National Guard members recently participated in a World War I Centennial Commemoration in the Marne region of Northern France from July 24-29. For one Soldier, the trip was an opportunity to have a personal encounter with a distant relative.

    Staff Sgt. Ashley Delisle, Oklahoma Army National Guard state awards manager, greeted the invitation to participate in the WWI commemoration trip with excitement. When she received word she would be going to France, she immediately told her family.

    “I was selected to come on this WWI commemoration trip and just happened to mention it to my grandma,” Delisle explained. “In passing, she very nonchalantly said, ’you know we have a family member buried in France.’ She told me the name of the cemetery and I looked it up on our itinerary and we just so happened to be going to that cemetery.”

    Pvt. 1st Class Anton J. Reida, a first-generation immigrant from Czechoslovakia, was Delisle’s great uncle. After the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, Reida enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 125th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Division, Nebraska Army National Guard. On Sept. 1, 1918, Reida was killed on the Aisne-Marne battlefield. He was laid to rest at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Fere-En-Tardenois, France.

    “He felt it was his duty to come serve and he gave it all,” Delisle said of her uncle.

    During the WWI Centennial Commemoration, members of current Army National Guard units who comprised the 42nd Infantry Division during WWI visited battlefield sites from the Second Battle of the Marne, as well as American Cemeteries where more than 6,000 American Service members are buried. On the third day of the trip, the group arrived at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery.

    Delisle set out to section D of the cemetery. She walked past 15 rows of white marble crosses, turned to the right and began walking amongst the grave markers. Halfway down the row, her pace slowed and her hand went to her mouth. She fell to her knees and tears trickled down her face. Delisle’s search had ended. She had found the final resting place of her great uncle.

    “He was so young,” Delisle commented. “He was 22 when he was killed. He was just a young man. Thank you so much, Uncle.”

    With the aid of her fellow Oklahoma National Guardsmen, Delisle placed a piece of parchment over the headstone and rubbed the relief of her uncle’s name on the blank canvas to return to her grandmother. A second impression was taken to give to an American Legion post in Nebraska that is named in his honor. The American Legion is also erecting a monument dedicated to Reida in November 2018.

    “It’s so amazing to actually be here,” Delisle said. “I am so glad I was able to come here and honor my family like this.”



    Date Taken: 07.27.2018
    Date Posted: 08.06.2018 08:22
    Story ID: 287299
    Location: 2, FR

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