STORY OF 2 WWI VETERANS
George Francis Duquette: 1895 – 1963
Louis Philip Duquette: 1888 - 1952
It all began one day when two brothers, George and Louis "Philip" Duquette, decided to visit their older brother Jack Duquette in Brooklyn, N.Y. Now Jack was several years older than George and Phil, and he had moved from Worcester, Mass., to New York after returning from his service during the Spanish-American War.
In those days, if you had access to a car, you had to carry lots of spare tires. Phil and George had just spent $75, which was an enormous amount of money in those days, on two tires for their American Underslung automobile. The tires were strapped to the back of the auto.
While in New York, someone stole both of the new tires from the back end of the vehicle. The Duquette brothers were infuriated. After looking at each other for a moment, they decided that they would join the U.S. Army.
They entered the Army two days apart in December 1917 at Fort Slocum, N.Y. They were separated at Fort Slocum but were reunited at Camp Joseph E. Johnston in Florida.
Eventually, both brothers would be sent overseas to France. George was assigned to motor pool duty. Phil was sent to France first, in April 1918. He served there until Nov. 18, 1918, when he fell victim to something that would haunt him for the rest of his life. He was gassed in the trenches of France and suffered until the day of his death in 1952. He was discharged from the Army in August 1919. He spent the rest of his life under the care of the medical community. An interesting side note is that while Phil was severely injured by the gassing, he was able to survive his transport back stateside in a ship with other badly injured men. During this trans-Atlantic crossing, men were dying from their injuries and the Spanish Flu, the 1918 influenza epidemic. Guys all around him were passing and being buried at sea. Phil made an internal commitment to not be buried at sea. He survived the trip.
George, because of his mechanical aptitude, was still serving in the motor pool. As a sergeant, he was frequently called upon to coordinate and lead convoys of supply and troop trucks. One story he related to his son,George Philip Duquette, was that they were travelling late one night with all headlights out when they came to an impassable bridge. Iit had been bombarded earlier in the evening. While they exited the trucks to plan an alternate route, they heard a series of slight “taps” coming from the surrounding woods. These “taps” were bullets hitting the leaves of the trees. They immediately leaped into the ditch line running alongside the road. Unfortunately, this action, too, had consequences. The ditch line had been filled with gas by the German army. Although not as severely as his brother Phil, another Duquette had been gassed! George was garrisoned in the same region of France that was the birthplace of St. Joan of Arc. He was serving under General “Black Jack” Pershing. While there he was asked to take part in the sainthood commemoration of Joan of Arc, probably because he could speak French. After he helped carry her relics, he was encouraged to write his name on the wall of her home or church. He told his children that if they ever went to France they should go there and look upon his name from that eventful day.
Because George could also speak German, he was brought to Germany after the armistice. He is pictured here along with other USA members.