Do you ever wonder why Waseca's VFW Post bears the name "Sweet Sommers"?
One week ago today, we laid to rest Corporal Caleb Erickson in Woodville Cemetery. Today, for our first installment in telling the stories of Waseca County's veterans, I want to share the stories of Raymond Sweet and William Sommers. For Caleb joins these earlier heroes, as Raymond and William lay just yards away in Woodville Cemetery, after losing their lives in France in 1918. And by all accounts the community turned out just as strongly as it did last week.
The following information is taken from "Waseca County in the World War" and the website links at the end of this article.
Ray Sweet was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sweet of Waseca and he was the first Waseca County resident killed in action in World War I. He was born in Waseca on November 27, 1895, and entered the service in February 1918. He was killed in action "somewhere on the Western Front" on October 1, 1918, while serving with Company E, 119th Infantry, 30th Division. From the Waseca Journal Radical the headline read: "First of Waseca's Soldiers Killed in Action is Returned for Burial -- City Decorated with Flags, Turns out En Masse to See Parade of Legionaires and other War Veterans Honoring Fallen Hero." The article continues: "With the city flag draped in his honor, through streets filled with people paying their last respects to one of Waseca's heroic soldier dead, the body of Raymond C. Sweeet was escorted with full military honors to his final resting place in Woodville Cemetary last Sunday."
William Sommers was the son of Mrs. Amelia Sommers, who lived on Second Street South in Waseca. William was born in Waseca County on the Sommers homestead in St. Mary's Township in 1898 and entered the service on June 15, 1917. He arrived in France with his unit, Company E, 6th Infantry, on July 15, 1918. Twice cited for gallantry in action, he took ill that December and died of pneumonia in France on December 28, 1918. From theWaseca Journal Radical, "With a squad recruited from his own company to fire the last volleys over his final resting place in the soil of the country he helped to defend, the body of William F. Sommers just returned from France, was placed in an honored grave in Woodville Cemetery Sunday afternoon." "A full military funeral under the direction of the local American Legion Post preceded the burial with a funeral procession and services in the German Lutheran church and at the cemetary. The body was brought here Friday night from New York, escorted by a United States army regular, and escorted by a detachment of service men ot the Sommers home on south Second Street."
You can learn more here at the following websites, including newspaper accounts of the funerals from the Waseca Journal Radical.