Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
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Pvt. Wilbert D. Macer
Co. C, 332nd Infantry, 83rd Division
October 28, 1893 - August 11, 1918


     "Peace cannot become a law of human society except by passing
through the struggle which will ground life and association on
foundations of justice and liberty, on the wreck of every power which
exists not for a principle but for dynastic interest."

     These were the words of Mazzini, the Italian nationalist, who in
the middle of the nineteenth century worked for the unification of
Italy, as Bismarck was working for the unification of Germany.  What
a contrast in their interpretation of nationalism!  The Kingdom of
Piedmont-Sardinia, the nucleus of the Italian national spirit, was
only the leader of Italian unification;  Prussia, however, dominated
the other German states and finally converted them to Prussian
militarism.  Mazzini wanted a nation established on "foundations of
justice and liberty"; Bismarck's purpose was "Blood and Iron."

     Wilbert D. Macer was one of the American soldiers who gave
their lives helping Italy after she freed herself from the German
influence of the Triple Alliance.

     He was born October 28, 1893, in Lynnville, Warrick County,
Indiana.  He received his primary education in that town and also
completed the first year of a high school course.  When he came to
Evansville he worked for a year as a clerk in a drug store.  He left
this employment and worked with a florist.  Finally he bought the
establishment formerly known as the Kramer Floral Co.  After one year
in business he went to Detroit, Mich., and three months later he left
for Toledo, 0h.  Throughout this time he continued to be interested
in the floral business.  At Toledo he received scientific training in
the designing and growing department.

     Abandoning his work at Toledo he entered the service in April,
1918.  He was assigned at Camp Taylor to Co. C, 332d Infantry.  Here
he distinguished himself as an expert rifleman.  In June, 1918, he
crossed the ocean, and on the eighteenth of that month he landed
"somewhere in England."

     He spent only a few hours on British soil, and then went to
France.  Here he was promoted to a private, first class.  About July
25th his organization was transferred to the Italian front.  He was
in Italy but a few days when he was afflicted with a severe attack of
dysentary.  On the fourth day of August he was taken to hospital
No. 331 temporarily and showed marked improvement.  He was sick about
a week, and died from the effects of the ailment August 11, 1918.

     Dr. Joseph H. Willis, of Evansville, Captain, M.R.C., was in
Field Hospital No.331, Zona Guerra.  He was with Wilbert Macer during
his last moments.  In a letter to Dr. E.C. Macer, the hero's brother,
Dr. Willis described the funeral and the military honors in memory
of Wilbert Macer.  The letter stated:
     "The funeral of your brother, was held yesterday afternoon and
was very impressive.  He was buried with full military honors, the
colonel himself marching on foot at the head of the regiment.  His
coffin was draped in the flag for which he died, and a wonderful band
furnished music.  His comrades furnished a guard of honor.  He died
a true soldier and I am glad to report that officers and men alike
speak very highly of him and of the record he made while in the
service.

     "Under the blue Italian skies, almost within the shadows of the
mighty Alps, he sleeps.  His resting place is well marked and I have
its location firmly fixed in mind.  It is near a railroad, so that
should the government decide after the war to bring back our fallen
soldiers it will be a very easy matter to locate his grave.

     "Were it my brother, I swould indeed feel proud of the honor
that has been shown him in this splendid funeral."

     Chaplain John K. O'Herron gave Dr. Macer details of the burial
place.  It is situated in Villafranca Cemetery, American section.
The grave is in the northwest corner, and his head is one foot from
the north wall.  The Chaplain added, "He did not die in battle, but
he did what he could, which is the greatest thing ever said of man."

     Capt. Robert B. Burch, writing to Dr. Macer, said of Wilbert's
service:
     "In character, purpose and ability your deceased brother was
not excelled in a company ranking high in those attributes.  He was
the first soldier to die in the company since it came overseas, and
the first of the A.E.F. to die in Italy.  He was buried with full
military honors in a beautiful cemetery, a part of which has been set
aside for the use of the American army. . . . As long as members of
this company meet together his memory will be respected for the love
his daily conduct inspired."

     The influence Wilbert Macer had on his comrades can be seen
from a letter signed by the members of his squad.  In part the letter
stated:
     "He was a fine fellow and a fine soldier and will be greatly
missed by all.  His death will only be a greater incentive for us all
to hasten the end of Kaiserism, which is the cause of so much world
sorrow and suffering."
_____

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp. 119-121

cdmyers@wowway.com
October 25, 1998