Note: Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have gone before us. To mark the day, Veterans’ Voices will feature for two weeks those who served their country and have since passed away (although not while in service).
It’s small enough to fit into the palm of a hand or slip into a pocket, yet its contents are invaluable. They contain a tiny record of life in the trenches during World War I for one John Pustejovsky, an Abbott resident born on June 25, 1893, near West.
Pustejovsky grew up working on the family farm. In October 1917, at age 24, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. As a sergeant during WWI, he was a member of Company A, 111th Engineers, caring for the Army mules and bringing supplies and ammunition to troops in the field. He fought in France in the battle of St. Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the latter of which cost 26,277 American lives, making it the largest and bloodiest operation of World War I. With the end of WWI and the signing of the armistice, Pustejovsky received an honorable discharge on June 18, 1919.
Returning home, he married Annie Bezdek on Nov. 26, 1919. They moved to Abbott, farming and raising cattle for a living. Pustejovsky was a prominent member and leader of the Abbott community, serving on the school board and helping organize the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and Fatima Cemetery.
He and Annie had one daughter, Christine Pustejovsky Polansky and five sons, Frank, Henry, Wesley, Clement and Johnnie.
John Pustejovsky died on July 19, 1972 and is buried at Fatima Cemetery. Among his survivors are his son, Johnnie Pustejovsky, and a granddaughter, Georgia Hutyra.
His son shared his father's diary from the war years.
October 8, 1917 (first diary entry; no further entries until July 7, 1918): Left West at 12:30. Arrived San Antonio Camp Travis 8:30.
July 7, 1918: 12 p.m. We rolled out of Camp Bowie. 7 p.m. we crossed the Red River into Okla.
July 10, 1918: Woke up at Erie Canal. Arrived in Niagara at 7:10 a.m. Seen the Falls.
July 11, 1918: Crossed to Long Island at 9:30 a.m. went under the Brooklyn Bridge. Came into Camp Milk Long Island N.Y. at 4 p.m.
July 16, 1918: 6 a.m. got on the ship that morning.
July 18, 1918: Left the port at 2 p.m.
July 30, 1918: Anchored in the French harbor at Braust.
July 31, 1918: We unloaded and went to the little shelter camp N.E. of Braust.
August 3, 1918: Marched to Braust in mud and rain where after loading on train we left at 5 p.m.
August 4, 1918: Country is level lots of wheat and oats the appearance of soil is poor. There we see binders and tractor engines and old Dutch wind mills.
September 12, 1918: Broke camp 7 a.m. Marched to forest Bois De Lusure.
September 14, 1918: Moved up Thiseourt highway camped in Rugnvilla Ruins
September 15, 1918: Bodhe aviator shot down while eating lunch.
September 19, 1918: Broke camp 8 p.m. marched 30 kilo to a point 1 kilo N.W. St Michael.
September 21, 1918: Broke camp 8 p.m. Marched 20, kilo to Forest De-Argonne. Camped in forest. Artillery was prepared for heavy borage (borrage) we stayed under all day.
September 26, 1918: Marched 16 kilo to La Hasgu. Camped in no man’s land.
October 8, 1918: Moved to dugouts in vicinity of LaHaszo and French dugouts.
(On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed ending WWI)
November 12-16, 1918: Camped in German dugouts near Apremont in Forest Lochian-Tenles.
November 29, 1918: Marched 56 kilo to Busnouil. Camped in barracks and washed (ro??) 2 weeks.
December 14, 1918:Moved to Vergigny near St. Florentine. Built barracks at the R.R.
(No further entries until March 11, 1919)
March 11, 1919: Marched to Tonnerre.
March 29, 1919: I was in Paris.
May 13, 1919: Loaded on train at 9:30 a.m. Passed Benny Beautiful country along the river. A beautiful castle on the hill.
May 22, 1919: Exchanged our francs for dollars.
May 23, 1919: 5 a.m. we walked up the gang plank on the USS Great Norther. At 6:45 we left the shores of France.
May 30, 1919: 7:00 a.m. we passed the Statue of Liberty. Pulled into the dock at 8:00 a.m. and unloaded the USSGN. Loaded on ferry boat on which we crossed to Long Island. Arrived Camp Milk at 2 p.m.
June 8, 1919: At 4 p.m. left Camp Milk passed through Philadelphia.
June 9, 1919: Lynchburg, Va. at 12:30. Danville, Va. great tobacco (?) houses.
June 10, 1919: Knoxville Tenn.
June 11, 1919: 8 a.m. Memphis Tenn. Crossed river into Ark. Country flat, crops in weeds, no grains. At 7 p.m. we hit Springfield, Mo. The Red Cross served coffee and cake.
June 13, 1919: 5 a.m. Okla City. Ate a big breakfast at the Red Cross Canteen. Parade at 9 a.m. At 7:30 p.m. crossed the Red River into Texas.
June 14, 1919: Dallas Parade at 10 a.m. Dinner at State Fair grounds. 3 p.m. arrived at Camp Bowie. Detrained in heavy rain.
June 16, 1919: Stood physical examination.
June 18, 1919: (Last entry) Received discharge at 11 a.m. Arrived at West 5:30 p.m. Emil Jerabek carried me home in a car. Mama was at home and the rest were hoeing cotton.