Submitted by: Raymond Schaffranek (son) and Jeffrey Popchock (grandson)
John Schaffranek served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The dates of service are: Known April 1, 1918 to June 4, 1919.
My father, John Schaffranek, was born in Rotthausen, Germany, on February 19, 1896. When he was nine years old, his mother Marie and father John emigrated from Germany with their five children. The family arrived in the United States on May 23, 1905, on board the SS Kroonland sailing within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The SS Kroonland would later serve as a troop transport ship for the US Army and Navy after the United States entered WWI.
Upon completion of immigration processing at Ellis Island, the family traveled to the small coal mining town of Portage in the central Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania. John’s father found work in a local coal mine and, sometime thereafter, John was working in a coal mine as well, likely before the age of fourteen, as documented in the 1910 Federal Census.
On August 5, 1913, his father completed the naturalization process, renounced allegiance to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the family was granted full citizenship. With their income and future secured, the family was ultimately able to purchase a two-acre plot of land in the Portage Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. They built a small house and settled down in their new home and country.
At age 21, my father registered for the military draft on June 5, 1917, two months after the United States Congress voted to declare war on Germany. He was drafted into the US Army on April 1, 1918, and received basic training at Camp Lee, Virginia. During World War I, he served as a Private on French soil with the American Expeditionary Forces from May 31, 1918, to May 16, 1919. He departed for “Over There” on May 22, 1918, on board the USS Leviathan sailing within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The USS Leviathan dropped anchor in the Harbor of Brest, France, on May 30, 1918. Pvt. Schaffranek was assigned to “I” Company in the 3rd Battalion, known as the “Flying Squirrels,” of the 318th Infantry Regiment in the 80th Division. The 80th Division was referred to as the “Blue Ridge Division” since most of the troops came from Virginia, West Virginia, and western counties of Pennsylvania.
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