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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Father Louis Pelletier, serving as Army Chaplain in WWI as Major Pelletier

Father Louis Pelletier, S.M., serving as
Major Pelletier, U.S.Army, 1917-1919
    With only one family member among both sides of my husband's and my family to serve (what we know to date) in World War One, here is our great uncle Louis
     Born in Van Buren, Maine of a large family of French Canadians who moved to the United States decades before, Father Louis Pelletier was a Marist priest who served in the U.S. Army in France during World War I. Valuable (we are most certain) to many soldiers and commanders at the front because he was an American who spoke fluent French, he became Major Louis Pelletier. After the war, he returned home. With two doctorates in physics and theology, he taught at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. By his students, he was remembered as especially tough!
     Here we see him in his Army uniform, his rank of "Major" written faintly at the top.
     This family group, with Father Louis on front row right, was with his parents, grandparents and his brother, my husband's grandfather, July 12, 1919. Father Louis was then 33 years old. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 33 in Washington, D.C.
     For these heart-warming pictures, I am grateful to our Aunt Annette Pelletier Cronin and her daughters Jane and Liz who saved them. They remembered Uncle Louis and sent these photos to me to use here when my husband and I sent out a family call for anyone's recollections of anyone who served in World War One. To have found Father Louis was a special godsend. We are certain he was precisely that to many soldiers in their hours of need at the front lines.

     “Before World War I, chaplains were appointed to individual regiments. During World War I, the Chaplain of the American Expeditionary Forces coordinated chaplains' activities in the army.”  (Re: Office of the Chief of Chaplains, US. Army, Library of Congress)
     As a rule it was duty of chaplain to go out into no man’s land at night and collect dog tags from those who were fallen. For those still alive, a chaplain administered last rites or tried to bring in stretcher bearers to remove wounded to a clearing station.