Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
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Pvt. Benjamin J. Lueken
U.S.M.C. Co. A, 1st Battery, 6th Regiment, 2nd Division
July 12, 1897 - April 22, 1918

     Benjamin J. Lueken gave Evansville its second gold star as a
member of the Marine Corps. It was because of the dashing and bold
achievements of the "soldiers of the sea" that the enemy called these
men "Teufel Hunde."* [*Devil Dogs.]

     He was born July 12, 1897, in Evansville, Ind.  He attended the
St. Mary's Catholic School, and graduated from Campbell School.
Then he took a course in bookkeeping at Lockyear's Business College.
He started to work at the C.& E.I. local office at fifteen years.
He was still working there at the time of his enlistment.  He entered
the U.S. Marine Corps as a private in May, 1917.  His first training
camp was at Paris Island, S.C., where he went on May 29.  From there
he was transferred to Quantico, Virginia.

     Private Lueken belonged to 74th Co., 6th Reg. U. S. Marines.
This company was formed on July 18,1917, at Quantico, Virginia, as
"A" Company of the First Battalion of the Sixth Regiment, Second
Division, with Capt. A. B. Miller as commanding officer, and "Smoke"
Gallager as first sergeant.  On July 19 the company started training
in modern warfare and finished on September 15, when they left for
New York, and embarked for overseas on September 16, 1917.  The
company disembarked at St. Nazaire, France, October 6, 1917.

     From the 7th of October until January 2, 1918, the company was
at St. Nazaire, doing construction work and guard duty.  Entraining
at St. Nazaire and going by rail to Germainvillers, Lueken
underwent a more intensive period of training, which was to prepare
the boys for their first experience in the trenches.  When it arrived
in Somme-Dieu, France, on January 18, 1918, the company lay in the
trenches in the Toul sector, near Verdun.  Here the company received
its first experience in trench warfare, and after ten days withdrew to
Camp Fontaine, St. Robert.  On April 13, while in reserve, a surprise
gas bombardment from the enemy was thrown over, in which thirty-eight
men died from gas wounds, and practically the entire company was removed
to the hospital, where they lay between life and death for months.

     In this battle Benjamin I. Lueken was fatally gassed.  On
May 5, 1918, at Somme-Dieu, the company was reorganized with
replacements from the second replacement battalion, and on the
eleventh left for Ontrepont.  From the 11th until the 30th the new
men trained at Ontrepont and Petite Serans.  On Decoration Day orders
were received to entrain and the company moved to Montriel, where it
stopped, and then moved forward on foot to Paris Ferme.

     In these latter activities, however, Benjamin Lueken took no
part.  The gas wounds proved fatal to him.  On April 29, 1918, his
parents received the following telegram: "Deeply regret to inform you
that Private Benjamin J. Lueken, Marine Corps, died on April 22, from
wounds received in action.  The body will be interred abroad until
end of the war.  Please accept my heartfelt sympathy in your great
sorrow. Your son laid down his life in defense of his country.
     "GEORGE BARNETT,
     "Major  General Commandant,
       U. S. Marine Corps.

     St. Benedict's Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Holy
Name Society, of which Private Lueken was a member, sang a solemn
requiem, as a memorial service for Evansville's second hero.  The
appropriate decorations of the church, the black and white robes of
the priests, and the solemn service, made the occasion impressive.
The funeral sermon was given by Father D. D. Ryan of St. Mary's of the
Woods.

     The body of Private Lueken was buried in grave No. 40, at
Bombluzin Cemetery, Meuse, France.  On a later date his body was
disinterred and reburied in grave No. 164, Section 107, Plot No. 4,
Cemetery 1232, Argonne, American Cemetery, Romagne-Sous-Montfaucon,
Meuse.

     His last letter to his parents was written April 11, 1918,
just three days before he received the fatal gas wound.  They had then
moved a short distance behind the trenches to rest.  The trenches they
had left, he said; were what the French called a quiet sector, though
they were showered with shells, shrapnel and machine gun fire from the
enemy.  His last gift to his mother was a little bouquet of flowers
which he sent in an envelope from France.  He gathered the flowers
himself, he said.  They grew around his billet in the woods.
_____

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp. 110-111

cdmyers@wowway.com
October 25, 1998