MY GRANDPA MY AMERICAN HERO

“Karen’s Noggin’ 🧠 Nuggets” #13 ~ September 21, 2022

PRIVATE DAHLBERG

As a young girl, I loved hearing the stories of our family history. I was fortunate that my parents enjoyed keeping track of the dates and details of our ancestors and were eager to share that information. I remember submitting my first genealogy report in the 8th grade. Any opportunity I could submit a report regarding my family for school, I was eager to work on it. This was a subject that kept my undiagnosed ADHD brain engaged. The process of discovering and putting the pieces together of my family fascinated me. 

Through the years I have many journal entries about the desire of writing about my family history. The desire was birthed early in my life and has never left. In my search for my place in this world, I realize that I now have a platform for sharing my family history and the distractions that have consumed me in the past are now the motivation to see my family’s stories in writing. I hope you enjoy my family stories as much as I enjoy writing them. 

The year is 1917 and the United States entered into World War I on April 6, 1917, more than two and a half years after the war began in Europe on July 28, 1914.

On September 21, 1917, a brave 25-year-old young man was inducted into the United States Army to serve his country. He left the comfort of his home and family to join other young men at Camp Logan, Illinois. He was now in the 33rd Division – 332nd Machine Gun Battalion. 

From his vocation as a painter with his father, his new role would be preparing with fellow young men from Illinois as they go into unknown territory. They could not imagine what horrors were waiting for them over the pond and into France.

Can you imagine the fear that gripped this young man’s family? His father was 55 and his mother was 49 when he entered service to fight in WWI. His siblings as well, ages 27, 22, 18, and 12 were proud but left with fear for their brother and the hope he would return to them someday. There’s no doubt that his family’s prayers went into unknown territory as well as they clung to their faith and held on to their hope that their son would return to them. 

During his training at Camp Logan, Illinois since September 21, 1917, he was now in the Machine Gun Company 130th Infantry beginning April 4, 1918. Training in the states was coming to an end and this brave soldier was now going overseas to fight the enemy. With no prior service, no qualifications in marksmanship or gunner, and no experience in mounted horsemanship he would be engaged in several battles. He left the U.S. on May 15, 1918, (just 5 days after his 26th birthday) and started his service in France on May 24, 1918. 

He would be engaged in the following battles: Verdun at the front. Champagne offensive. St. Mihiel at the front. All as a private in the Machine Gun Company 130th Infantry 33rd Division. 

One can only imagine the horrors, trauma, and nightmares that would be this young man’s new normal. As the loss of lives through warfare and disease would show up daily, I can only imagine that it was his faith in God, love of country, and devotion to family that kept him on his mission to win the war and return home safely. 

On October 29, 1918 (13 days before the war would end) while on guard at the frontline in St. Mihiel France, this young soldier was hit with shrapnel. It had hit his helmet and split it open. It then proceeded to split open his jacket and pants and then hit his right foot. He was taken to Evacuation Hospital #7 and then to Hospital #19. The plan was to amputate his right foot as this was unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence for the soldiers. Remarkably, a doctor heard that this young soldier was from Chicago and immediately took interest in him. The doctor was able to care for the gunshot wounds that affected his right foot along with his left leg near his ankle and the foot was saved. That was truly a miracle in itself. 

On November 11, 1918, after more than four years of horrific fighting and the loss of over 8 million lives, the guns on the Western Front fell silent. Even though fighting continued elsewhere, the armistice between Germany and the Allies was the first step and just the beginning of ending World War I.

This young wounded soldier’s mission was now complete. He was able to fight off the enemy and help to win the war during his time in France. On December 11, 1918, he began his long journey back home. When returning to the states, he stayed for a time at Camp Merritt in New Jersey before being transferred to Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois. 

According to three letters that I have from his older sister, in 1919, there must have been some confusion about getting this dearly missed soldier home. 

With much anticipation from his family, they gathered at the train station at Park Row in Chicago to greet their hero, their son, and their brother in late February 1919. 

A reporter from the Chicago Evening American Newspaper was also at the train station to interview family and soldiers. The paper reported that “Private Dahlberg said he’d been hit while on guard before St. Mihiel”. They quoted Private Dahlberg as saying, “that Brest port is sure some hellhole.” and that he was “doggone glad to smell Chicago smoke again.” Happenings? Inquired the reporter. “But there’s nothing much exciting,” grinned the soldier. “We licked’em; that’s all.” A photo of Private Dahlberg with his youngest brother and older sister along with the article was in the Chicago Evening American paper on February 24, 1919. 

Private Sven Dahlberg was honorably discharged from the United States Army on March 1, 1919, with the remarks of his services as honest and faithful with the notation of his character as being excellent. He was now a Purple Heart Veteran. 

It’s hard for us to imagine what all our soldiers went through and I realized, even more, today, that it was by the Grace of God that Private Dahlberg survived this horrific experience. 

He truly was an American Hero! He would go on to meet a beautiful young lady from Sweden, marry her, and have children. And in the 1960s this brave soldier became My American Hero and my Grandpa Sven Dahlberg! 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit the World War I Museum in Kansas City earlier this month as it motivated me to write about my Grandpa whom I didn’t know very well but made a difference and a lasting impact. 

Thank you for reading my tribute to my Grandpa Dahlberg in “Karen’s Noggin’ 🧠 Nuggets” #13 ~ September 21, 2022 

Sven Per Fredrick Dahlberg 1892 – 1976

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