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November 19, 2017

11/13/2017 10:14:00 AM
A World War I veteran remembered
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

World War I.
The Great War.
The War to End All Wars.
There are no longer any living United States veterans of the First World War, but with the 100th anniversary of America's entrance into the war just recognized in April, a man with local ties reflected on the service of one World War I veteran.
"I think about him every day," Bruce Paynter said of his grandfather, David M. Morgan.
Paynter's parents, John and Marietta, grew up in Mineral Point. Marietta's father, David M. Morgan, was a "very mercurial guy," Paynter said. He was well-known for being the owner and publisher of then newly formed Democrat Tribune and for his service as the superintendent of county schools, among other civic responsibilities.
As a child, Paynter recalled visiting his grandfather, and his uncle of the same name (David J. Morgan), in Mineral Point.
"I had the run of the attics," Paynter said. "We'd come up four or five weekends a summer, take the train through Madison."
There were always interesting finds in Morgan's attic, Paynter continued. But no one had ever told him he could look further so he never did.
When his grandfather died in 1969, the majority of his possessions migrated to Uncle Morgan's house. And then when Uncle Morgan passed away in 1994, "it all migrated to me," Paynter said.
His grandfather and uncle has amassed a lot of items, but what Paynter found upon inspection of those items from the attic was astonishing.
"When I opened some garment bags, inside were all World War I vintage uniforms," Paynter said. "They looked like something Hollywood made yesterday."
His relatives had kept safe other items from war time as well, including several firearms, hats, helmets, song books, military training manuals, photographs and medals.
Paynter knew his grandfather and uncle had served in the military, and both were very patriotic and members of the American Legion. But Paynter had never heard his grandfather talk much about his service in World War I.
"I knew he was in the trenches," Paynter said. "I asked him once what it was like to be an officer, and he said, 'we all had to do things we're not proud of.' That's all he would say about his combat."
With his grandfather's items in his possession, Paynter began researching based on the items he had. Soon he was able to connect several dots, tracing Morgan's footsteps as he served overseas in World War I.
"He was 23 years old in this photo," Paynter said, holding up the photograph of his grandfather in uniform. "I suspect it was taken in France as it came from a postcard. On the back of it, he had written 'Mama's Little Boy.'"...
See the rest of the story in the November 9th Chronicle issue.

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