Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Salute: Alonzo Geiger

Alonzo W. Geiger, photo courtesy of Caroline Geiger Mulican and Kerry Cayten

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

Alonzo Winfield Geiger was a 22-year-old laborer at the Marathon Lumber Co. in Laurel, Mississippi, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1918 for service in World War I.

Alonzo became a private first class with Company C of the 102nd Engineers with the 27th Infantry Division. The 27th Division spent all of the war with the British Fourth Army and the contributions of the Americans in breaking through the Hindenburg Line sometimes have often been overlooked.

The 102nd Engineers arrived at the front in advance of infantry and machine-gun units. Their dangerous job included repairing roads nearly destroyed after three years of shellfire.

In an attack on the Hindenburg Line on Sept. 29, 1918, Maj. Gen. John F. O’Ryan sent three companies of the 102nd Engineers to occupy a reserve position north of Ronssoy. He had run out infantry units to put on the line in the bloody and ferocious battle.

Photo courtesy of Caroline Geiger Mulican and Kerry Cayten
The engineers weren't needed and the war ended for Alonzo and the other men of the 27th Division when they were pulled back for a rest on Oct. 1.

After the war, Alonzo returned to Laurel and opened a gasoline service station on Central Avenue. A hard worker all his life, Alonzo could be found in the station six days a week. Sundays he reserved for church and visiting family.

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