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Jurian (Jerry) J. Dykstra

Submitted by: Janna Dykstra Smith {granddaughter}


Jurian Jerry J DykstraJurian (Jerry) J. Dykstra was born around 1896, Jurian (Jerry) Dykstra served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service


Jurian (Jerry Joe) Dykstra, a son of Dutch immigrants, was inducted into the U.S. Army at the age of 21 on July 26, 1918, in Orange City, Iowa. He left the farm, near Middleburg (Sioux County), using an old cardboard suitcase and travelled to the newly built Camp Pike, north of Little Rock, Arkansas. His military training consisted mostly of close order drill.

He corresponded with Cynthia Meerdink, a young girl from Hull, Iowa, whose own brother, Henry, was already in France. Jerry’s October 6th letter from Camp Pike was written 36 days before the Armistice. It was a “lonesome Sunday” and he was sitting outside with a number of other letter writers. “Someone is shaking the table.” He finished the letter inside “with my tablet on my knee for table.” Jerry compliments Cynthia on a photograph that she has sent him, “That is surely a handy picture you sent me as it is very handy to carry around this way.”

His military grade was Private and he mentions getting paid on a Sunday. “We got our pay this morning. I got $26.75 with insurance taken off already…quite some wages for a month’s hard labor. If I would be home, I could earn that in a few days and then in a more happier way.” “Heard that Austria Hungary made peace with the Allies. That will be worth more to me than my whole month’s pay.”

He speaks about some of the other Sioux County men serving “kitchen police” (KP duty). “One of the boys has a couple of Iowa corn ears they surely are fine how, I wish I could pick some of that.”

He writes of being unable to go to the Y.M.C. A. on Camp Pike because of the quarantine. “John was pretty sick today… it is quite some sickness, that Influenza. The measles broke out in one of the companys (sic) of this battalion. I noticed they were guarded this evening. I do not hope we will get it here as it is no fun to be tied to the barracks.”

Private Dykstra did worry about getting sent overseas, mentioning “have to cross” and “go across” several times. His infantry replacement battalion was eventually deployed and he was sent to Camp Upton, a transient camp on Long Island directly under control of the New York Port of Embarkation. He was sent off to war without actually having fired a live weapon. His enlistment paperwork reads, Marksmanship, gunner qualification rating: “Not qualified.”
Private Dykstra boarded the ship for France and stayed overnight. The ship never left port because fortunately for him, the Armistice was signed the very next day on November 11th, 1918. He was sent to Camp Dodge near Des Moines, Iowa, where he was discharged on December 11th, 1918.

Jerry and Cynthia married in 1920 and began farming north of Hull, Iowa. In 2020, this farm will become a Century Farm.

Note: Jurian’s name is spelled correctly on his dog tag and in his signature. However, the Honorable Discharge paperwork spells his name as “Jurien.” His birth certificate shows it at Jurrien. He "americanized" his name and went by “Jerry Joe Dykstra” for the rest of his life.

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