Published: 12 January 2024
By David N. Kuroski
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
Nothing makes history more interesting than a personal connection to the distant times one usually only reads about in books. And so, when I learned from a cousin in 2018 that a great uncle of mine (Paul Kurowski, 1886 – 1940) had been in the U.S. Army between May, 1918 and May, 1919 and had served overseas in the 82nd Infantry Division during the Great War, I was quite surprised.
But then when that same cousin sent me two of his photos in uniform as well as a postcard he had sent from France to his brother (my grandfather) in Chicago, I was elated. Now I had a personal connection, and one that inspired me to learn as much as possible about the 82nd “All-American” Division.
As the return address on the postcard showed, my great uncle was a Private in Company C of the 327th Infantry Regiment, A.E.F. The front of the postcard has the printed message: “Kisses from France.” But the flip side of it has a message that speaks little of love and kisses. Instead, my uncle wrote of the challenging physical hardships he was enduring during the war, and also how he missed not hearing from his family. He wrote:
Dear brother John,
I am out here for two months climbing up the mountains from morning until night. It seems to me that they don’t care to get us back.
What is the matter? I have not heard from the folks yet.
By purchasing and reading books such as The All-Americans at War (The 82nd Division in the Great War, 1917-1918) by James J. Cooke (first published in 1999), and the Official History of 82nd Division, American Expeditionary Forces, “All American” Division (published in 1920), I gained an appreciation of how, in the latter half of 1918, my great uncle, and many Doughboys like him, had experienced the fighting “over there,” whether it was part of the rescue of the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division or part of the Meuse-Argonne campaign when a fellow soldier in a sister regiment (Alvin York in the 328th Infantry Regiment) would later be awarded the Medal of Honor.
In March 2019 my wife and I travelled to France. We visited the Meuse-Argonne American cemetery and saw the area where the Lost Battalion fought for its very survival against almost overwhelming odds.
In spring of 2023, after submitting to the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 2022 documentation of my great uncle’s military service, a military marker with his name and regimental information was received and placed at the Resurrection Catholic Cemetery (near Chicago) where in a Kurowski family lot, Uncle Paul’s marker is now next to the marker of his brother to whom he had sent that postcard 105 years ago.