Bio: Haugen, Otto (Story of Death – 1918)

Contact: Ann Stevens

Surnames: Haugen

----Source: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 9/26/1918

Haugen, Otto (Story of Death – 26 Sep 1918)

(From Stars and Stripes, France)
All six of the Haugen brothers from Neillsville, Wis., were in uniforms before the war had run its course many months, but only two of them, Arthur, an old soldier who had served six hitches, and his kid brother, Otto, landed in the same regiment.

For a while after they had reached France, Otto was even in the company where Arthur, generally known “Mother” Haugen, was top sergeant. His kinship to that amiable, but firm disciplinarian, did not get him anything, as he found out the night he tried, in larky mood, to keep lights on in his billet after taps and, for his unruliness, was soundly thrashed by the top in full view of the deeply impressed company.

Then came an anxious August day when the first battalion was to lead a charge on the treacherous hill beyond the Ourcq and Mother Haugen, as top sergeant of headquarters company, had to stay behind, knowing what the day’s work was and knowing, too, that the kid would be in the thick of it. He himself crossed the battlefield in the wake of the troops and, in the pouring rain, made his search from dead to dead. The search was not long. On the brink of a German trench, where six of the enemy lay killed, he found the two boys of Company A. They had died crouching over their empty rifles. One of them was the kid.

It was the older brother who buried the younger on the field where he had fallen. Because there was no blanket at hand to serve as a shroud, the captain whipped off his own streaming slicker and wrapped the dead boy in that.

“The kid seems to have given a good account of himself,” said Mother Haugen, and went back to his work.



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