Great Pop-Pop gets his medal
By LtCol Gregory J. Johnson, USMC (Ret.)
In 1986, one week after the birth of my first-born child, a special ceremony took place on the grounds of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. This was a unique ceremony, but not un-similar to others, I'm sure, that have occurred before — and since. This particular ceremony the Marine Corps conducted was in honor of an enlisted U.S. Army soldier who had performed honorable service to his country during World War I. Now this individual wasn't a great war hero of any sorts in the military sense. He saw combat and did his duty to the best of his ability. He bravely fought America's fight, before returning home to become a chemist with the DuPont Company for the majority of his life. He was just one of many citizen soldiers who answered his country's call to arms in "The war to end all wars"—The Great War.
Now a little more background on this is probably in order. During 1986 I was completing a tour as an instructor at the Marine Corps' Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico. I had been married a year and we had just welcomed the arrival of our first child. My wife’s grandfather, Albert Reidinger, had served in the U.S. Army as a private during World War I. He had fought with the 78th Division (The Lightening Division) as part of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). He saw action at St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and the Defensive Sector. 'Great Pop-Pop', as he was called within the family, did not return to the states with his unit when the war ended. A Princeton man, he was given an opportunity to stay behind for a few months to take some academic courses at a prominent university in Paris.
[Fast forward to 1985....]
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