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"Our Heroes"

- Mary Lou Creamer

"They were local men who fought on battlefields around the world in France, Russia, Vietnam. Several veterans' posts have adopted the names of these men who lost their lives defending freedom. On this Memorial Day weekend, we take a brief look at 15 true heroes.

Charles A. Hammond and Fred Quandt were born generations apart, but they had much in common.

Both served in the U.S. Army, dying on the battlefields of their respective wars. And both were honored by having their names attached to local veterans' organizations.

Ex-servicemen honored Mr. Hammond's record by putting his name on American Legion Post 8 in Port Huron. Mr. Quandt was honored by having the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Algonac named for him.

'Fred pretty much grew up next to where the building now stands, so it is fitting to see his name on it,' said Eric Quandt, Fred Quandt's brother, who lives in the family home next to the post.

'If you listen to any vet, they will tell you they were just doing what they were told to do. They deserve to be honored like they are,' he said.

The Blue Water Area has 12 posts named for wartime heroes.

As we celebrate this Memorial Day holiday - a time set aside to remember those who died in service - it is only fitting to take a look at the men who have had their names etched in the public mind in such a manner.

About 65% of the 399 VFW posts in Michigan are named for a person, said Jim VanHauter, state commander for the VFW of the United States - Michigan Department, in Lansing.

'There are a very few posts that have the city attached to the name, but most have a deceased veteran,' Mr. VanHauter said.

There are 445 American Legion posts in the state, 90% of which are named for someone, said Warren Stensrud, public relations director for the Michigan American Legion in Lansing.

Some of the information on the men has been lost through the years, making the details sketchy. But here is a brief look at who they were and how they died.

Charles A. Hammond

Lt. Hammond is one of Port Huron's best-known soldiers. He also was one of the first local men killed in World War I.

Born Jan. 11, 1887, he was a master machinist before joining the U.S. Army in 1910, at the age of 23.

During World War I, Lt. Hammond led Company L into the battlefield of France. He was killed in action July 31, 1918, on Hill 212 in Sergy, France.

He was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for his heroics, as well as medals from the American, French, British and Belgian governments.

American Legion Post 8 in Port Huron was named in his honor in 1919. His body was returned to Port Huron on July 24, 1921. He is buried in Lakeside Cemetery.

Jacob May and Eugene O'Brien

Selecting one individual to honor proved to be too difficult for Port Huron VFW Post 8455.

So they selected two: Jacob May and Eugene O'Brien, both casualties of World War II.

Mr. May, 20, was killed July 14, 1945, in the Philippines. The post was named for him about six months after his death.

Mr. O'Brien, also 20, was from Kimball Township. He entered the service in 1942 and was killed June 1944 at Normandy.

Charles J. Fulton

American Legion Post 382 in St. Clair is named for Mr. Fulton, the city's first resident to die in World War I.

Born in Casco Township on Aug. 20, 1892, he enlisted with Company C, 33rd Michigan Infantry, in 1916.

By coincidence, Mr. Fulton was killed in France on July 31, 1918 - the same day Lt. Hammond and Cpl. Charles H. Schoor died.

Henry Francis Bashore

Marine City VFW Post 3129 no longer has a permenant building, but it still carries the name of Henry Francis Bashore wherever the organization meets.

The Marine City native enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry in 1917, and was killed in France on Aug. 1, 1918.

Mr. Bashore, who was 24 at the time, was the first Marine City resident to die in World War I.

Leo Butler and Jack Gleason

Like the May-O'Brien post, the members of VFW Post 5585 in Emmett chose two people to honor: Leo Butler and Jack Gleason.

Mr. Butler served in the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division during World War II. He was 27 when he was killed in June 1944 at Iwo Jima.

That same month, Mr. Gleason was killed half a world away, in Normandy, France. He was in his early 20s and had attended school in Yale.

James Coleman

Like many others, members of the Richmond VFW post chose to honor its first resident killed in World War II: James Coleman.

Mr. Coleman, a 1940 graduate of Richmond High School, served in the U.S. Navy aboard the submarine USS Amberjack. He was killed March 22, 1943.

In his early 20s at the time of his death, his body was never recovered.

Charles H. Schoor

This Port Huron native is believed to have been one of the first two men to enlist in the U.S. Army for duty in World War I. He signed on April 10, 1917.

Ironically, 13 months later, he was killed July 31, 1918, on Hill 212 in Sergy, Frances, the same battle in which Lt. Hammond died.

Cpl. Schoor's body was returned to Port Huron and buried in Lakeside Cemetery on Aug. 6, 1921. That same year, Port Huron's VFW Post 796 honored the soldier by naming the post after him.

Floyd Sickles

Deckerville American Legion Post 376 honors Floyd Sickles, who was in his early 20s when he died in Russia in 1918 during World War I.

William Setter

The Brown City VFW post is named after another World War I veteran, William Setter.

He was killed during a raid in Russia in 1918, as a member of the famed Polar Bear outfit. He was still a teen-ager when he died.

Russel W. Wakefield

American Legion Post 396 in Sandusky honors native son Russel W. Wakefield.

The post has lost its history through the years, so post members know little about the soldier other than he died in World War I.

Anyone with information regarding Mr. Wakefield may call Eldon Bannister, post commander, at 648-5957.

Robert Burhans and Jay Hagedon

Members of American Legion Post 197 honored the first and last Harbor Beach natives killed in World War I.

Robert Burhans served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the war. His unit was one of the first sent overseas to France in 1918.

He died in 1918, and is buried in a U.S. Cemetery in France.

Jay Hagedon, the last man from Harbor Beach to die in that war, was drafted into the U.S. Army in May 1918. He was first sent to England and then France in August of that year. Shortly after his arrival, he was transferred to a rest camp where he took position as a clerk. He died a short time later from the flu, which reached epidemic proportions.

He is buried in Rock Falls Cemetery.

Fred Quandt

Fred Quandt died in Vietnam, but his parents - and the members of VFW Post 3901 - made sure he isn't forgotten.

Fred Quandt, 20, was a helicopter crew chief and door gunner when he was injured in battle Oct. 30, 1971. He died two days later, on Nov. 1, becoming the secong Algonac soldier to die in the conflict.

When the group decided to build a new hall, Robert and Muriel Quandt donated the property next to their home. The post in turn named itself in honor of their son.

'I'm proud to see my brother's name on that building,' Mr. Quandt, 35, said."

Source: Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan - Sunday, May 28, 2000 - Living Section