Carl Rehm was born May 31, 1896 in St. Louis, Mo. He grew up in the area of Compton Ave and Chouteau living upstairs from his father's saloon at that location. After moving quite a bit during his first 20 years or so, the family ended up in an area of southwest St. Louis County called Windsor Springs (Which is now the southern part of Kirkwood).
In July 1917, at the age of twenty one, Carl enlisted in the Missouri National Guard at St. Louis. He was assigned to the Army and sent to Camp Funston, Kansas for basic training. On December 1, 1917 he earned the rank of private first class. His serial number was 1464009. Upon completion of basic training he was assigned to the 35th Division, 128th Field Artillery, Battery F * and remained in that unit until he was discharged in 1919.
On or about March 29, 1918 Carl was sent to France with his unit to serve in WWI. His duties in the 128th included the operation and movement of cannons. During his stint in France he saw heavy action many times. Some of the action was in, but not limited to, the Alsace Sector 8/23-30, the St. Mihiel Offensive 9/10-15, the Verdun Front 10/10-11, and his heaviest action during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (in the Argonne Forrest) 9/23-10/15.
Of all the action Carl was involved in, there were two memories that stand out for him. The first being the time he spent as a horseback courier. With his fondness for horses he seemed to be a natural for the job. His duties were to take a horse into the dense forest and relay information between groups and sectors. The only catch was, it was done at night. Carl told his family of how he just let the horse lead the way and he would hold on for the ride. After a few trips, and contact with low tree limbs, his uniform was torn up quite badly and had to be replaced. The other memory involved his unit raiding a train that had stopped in one of their sectors that was loaded with wine and cheese. The men, as you could guess, had quite a good time. At least until they were caught and had to return everything that they had not yet consumed.
Carl was allowed to return to the U.S. in April of 1919. His discharge papers state that he served in France from March 29, 1918 till April 22, 1919. He received two gold war chevrons and was honorably discharged on May 2, 1919 with zero percent disability. There was a parade in the downtown area of St. Louis (unknown date) after he returned from the war and his unit was photographed as it marched along carrying American flags.
After returning to St. Louis he went into the painting and interior decorating business. He met a young lady named Angie Hermsen and eventually married her on July 24, 1922. They had one daughter named Lois.
In the years after Loi's birth Carl's health began to deteriorate. His biggest and most dangerous ailment was tuberculosis (TB) . It wasn't uncommon to get TB then and the closeness he had with other soldiers during the war was a perfect setting to get the disease. Unfortunately the type of TB he had not only was in his lungs but spread through his body. He had stays in VA hospitals including Jefferson Barracks, at Oteen, North Carolina and at Springfield, Mo. Later in his life as his illness progressed, Carl resented going to the VA for yearly check ups because each time he came out of the exam the dollar amount on his medical disability check increased. He knew that he was getting sicker and sicker each time they raised the amount.
He spent his last few active years working as a security guard for the Curtiss-Wright Corp. aircraft plant during WWII and later selling paint for Sears Roebuck Co. on Grand Ave. He became very ill late in his life and spent his last few days in the Marine Hospital in Kirkwood (now St. Joseph Hospital). He died September 16, 1949 and was buried in Jefferson Barrack National Cemetery, St. Louis, section 71, grave 659. This article with photographs contributed by Jeff Rehm of St. Louis, Mo.
Carl Rehm (far right) standing with parents (William and Lina Rehm) and his little brother Gus Rehm.
(*Note: The 128th Field Artillery and the rest of the 35th division received basic training at Camp Doniphan, near Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. It is uncertain why Pvt. Rehm was assigned to Camp Funston, unless he was later transferred to that unit at a later date.)