Hubert Joseph Wesselman was born in May 1892 in Minnesota. He was drafted into the Army in 1918 at 24 years old. After he was inducted on April 27, 1918, in Littleton, Colorado, he began writing a journal, which was later transcribed by his daughter, Frances Laura Wesselman Ourada, and titled it “A Short Memorandum” in 2008.
After training, on June 29, Wesselman deployed to Europe. As part of the 3rd Platoon, Company L, 354th Infantry Regiment, 89th Division and American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), he traveled to Boston, where he boarded a ship to England. From there, the AEF traveled by ship and train to reach northeastern France, where he fought in the Battle of St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the Lucey Sector and the Euvezin Sector.
In his journal, Wesselman detailed his experiences in the trenches of France, which were very long and difficult. He wrote, “in the [Fleury] trenches is the first time I ever slept standing up. We expected to be relieved that evening but were just moved farther down the trench for another 24 hours.”
On Sept. 12, 1918, Wesselman and the 3rd Platoon worked to hold the line and dig trenches in the German line two trenches. In his diary, he wrote, “All we had to do was hold the lines. We dug some at night and during the day laid low.” He described one specific night where, while “digging trenches out in the open they started shelling us and we sure dug out for our dugouts.”
On March 22, 1919, Wesselman returned to the United States at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. On June 13, 1919, he was honorably discharged with the rank of private. Wesselman married Nellie May Walker in May 1921; together, they had two sons and three daughters.
During his service, he often wrote about his concerns for the long-term impacts of his wartime experiences. In one excerpt, he wrote, “It is not very healthy to lay in them darned dugouts day after day. I don’t feel much effect yet but am afraid I will in the future.”
According to his daughter, “the realities of the horrors he experienced would surface and he would go off by himself and seemingly relive them.” Professional services for conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were not available at the time.
Wesselman died by suicide at the age of 61.
We honor his service.
If you are a Veteran experiencing thoughts of suicide or worried about one, Veteran Crisis Line responders are ready to listen and help. This is available 24/7, 365 days a year by dialing 988 (and pressing 1), texting 838255, or chatting online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/.
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