Martin Haugse

PVT Martin G. Haugse

Everyone who has lived in Garretson for some time knows that our American Legion Post 23 is named after "Henry G. Fix" who was killed in action during WW I. However, most of us do not know of Martin G. Haugse whose name is on the same headstone in the Lutheran Cemetery. Martin was the oldest son born on Nov 7, 1898 to Mr. and Mrs. A. N. Haugse. He grew up in Garretson and like most kids of that time had many friends and entertained themselves with games and playing sports--he especially enjoyed baseball. He attended Garretson school where he was a good student and athlete. He was also active in band and in 1907 was elected Band Secretary/Treasurer. After WW I broke out, he wanted to enlist in the Army but his folks felt at only 17 he was too young and they would not sign for him. Later when some buddies were joining the Luverne National Guard his parents consented and he enlisted.

During his deployment, he was involved in the Argonne Offensive Battle. This was a very tough decisive battle fought from Sept 26 through Nov 11, 1918. Heavy casualties were encountered on both sides as our troops took up an offensive against over 40 well entrenched German Divisions. Martin was assigned as one of the replacement gunners in an automatic rifle squad near St. Georges. If you look at his grave marker, you will note that Martin eventually served in the same Company as Henry G. Fix.

Sadly, Martin was killed in action less than a month before the war ended. He faithfully wrote his parents whenever he could, so they must have known something was wrong and feared the worst when they no longer received his letters. His last letter arrived 2 days before he was killed on Oct 15,1918. As a parent and sibling, one cannot begin to imagine their feelings of fear and anxiety as they awaited the eldest sons next letter. After a long painful silence, their worst fears were confirmed the following spring when they were notified of their son’s death. Understandably the family wanted to know more about his death and placed an ad in "The American Legion Weekly" section titled 'Find your buddy'. From several responses, they eventually learned that Pvt.Haugse, an automatic rifle gunner of C Company, 165th Infantry, was killed at his gun in the Forty-second Division attack on St. George’s Farm and Hill 263 in the Argonne on October 15th, 1918.

Perhaps a fitting end to this article would be a short excerpt from a letter to his dad.

"The Argonne-Meuse was the final offensive. On the morning of the eleventh of November my battalion was astride the Meuse River. The afternoon of the eleventh the chaplain held a Thanksgiving service. It was a scene I shall never forget as the chaplain stood there with the worn doughboys all around him in the middle of a French forest. I tell you the men stood there praying, unashamed of the tears rolling down their cheeks. It was a mighty solemn affair for most of us and I had tears in my eyes for I had just been told that a little chap from Flandreau who I knew had been bumped off in the final drive. Of course, we couldn't have fires at the front but you should have seen the fires that evening, great big blazes lighting the woods for several hundred yards while across the river we could hear the Bosches (term for Germans) singing and yelling and having a gay old time. Take it from me Doc, that if this war hasn't been a lesson for a man, he can't be taught, that's' all."