Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
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Pvt. Douglas Viele
First Officer's Training School, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana
April 21, 1891 - July 7, 1917


   Douglas Viele, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward N. Viele,
did not have the opportunity to serve on the battlefields of France,
but, with his noble character, intrepid courage, and devoted loyalty,
is there any doubt that he would have reflected glory, both on him-
self and his community? He was born April 21, 1891, of one of the
oldest families in Evansville.  Reared in a home of culture, Douglas
Viele had a splendid education. After attending the local high school,
he entered Holderness School, Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1908; the
year following, he was graduated from the Princeton Preparatory
School in Princeton, New Jersey. He then entered Purdue University
and in 1914 he graduated with honors. After an European tour, he
returned to Evansville, Indiana, and was associated with his father
in the wholesale brokerage business.

   His  pleasing personality and lovable disposition gained him
many friends. As a student, he became a member of the Phi Delta
Theta Fraternity.  He was a member of the St. Paul's Episcopal
Church, and also a member of the Country and Crescent Clubs.
Throughout his life he cherished the ambition of aiding his country.
He wanted to be a soldier. While in Purdue University, he was
First Lieutenant, and later, made Captain of the Purdue Cadets. He
held this rank for two years.  His military training gained him ad-
mission to the Scabbard and Blade, an organization composed of men
holding commissions in the cadet corps of various colleges and
universities in the country.  In 1915 he attended the training camp at
Fort Sheridan; in 1916 he also attended the famous military training
camp in Plattsburg, N.Y.  He was the only local man taking that
course.

   When America entered the war, Douglas Viele was one of the first
to offer his services to his country. Before going to the training
camp, he helped drill the Evansville Service Corps.  He entered the
officers' reserve camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, and would have
received a commission as Captain. He was taken ill early in the
morning while in line waiting for military inspection, and then asked
permission to go to his barracks. Two hours later he was found
unconscious by his college roommate, Carter Logan.  After a week's
illness of Cerebral Spinal Meningitis, he died in the Camp Hospital at
Fort Benjamin Harrison.

   Douglas Viele was buried with full military honors.  A firing
squad of nine men was sent from Fort Harrison to accompany the
body to Evansville.  The funeral was held in St. Paul's Episcopal
Church; the burial followed in Oak Hill Cemetery, where the squad
fired the last volley and taps were sounded over the flag-draped
casket.

   The following worthy tribute to this splendid soldier was given
at the funeral services by Rev. A. L. Murray:
   "To lay down one's life for others is enough in itself to
immortalize a man; but when this young man laid down his life for his
country, he gave a magnificent physique, a clean and trained mind,
and a manly religious spirit, a spirit that was the esteem and affection
of his comrades, who discovered him to be the whitest kind of a man.
With a true soldier's spirit of uncomplaining devotion, he made rapid
advancement.  He was born to lead.  We expected him to receive
further orders of advancement, and he has, but not in the way his
friends expected. God accepted his self-offering and called him to a
higher service and commissioned him for a ministry whereby the good
work begun in him will continue.  He has been privileged to make
the great adventure.

   To be worthy of fellowship with those who by consecration to
the world's great cause give themselves thus willingly, we must our-
selves be heroes, and at this hour strike the glory of the passing of a
man who has not failed to interpret life with a splendid sense of God
and a faithful service to human need."
   Douglas Viele was the first Evansville soldier who died while in
service. On Decoration Day of 1919, his memory was honored by an
impressive ceremony, and a fitting memorial arranged by the Board
of the Rathbone Memorial Home.  Prominent citizens of Evansville,
and several of his comrades in arms, participated in the dedication
of a bronze memorial tablet. The inscription on the tablet reads: "To
the Memory of Douglas Viele, the First Evansville Soldier who Died
in the Service of His Country in the Great War. July 7th, 1917 born
April 21st, 1891."

   This tablet marks the Victory Oak Tree on the lawn of the
Rathbone Memorial Home.
_____

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp177-179.

cdmyers@wowway.com
October 25, 1998