fbpx

Lee Jensen

Submitted by: K.C.Picard-Krone {World War 1 historian}

Lee Jensen image

Lee Jensen was born around 1895. Lee Jensen served in World War 1 with the United States Army Air Corps. The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service

 

With all the best intentions of serving his country in the Great War, twenty-two year old Lee Jensen, of Montpelier, Idaho enlisted in February 1918 with the Aviation section of the Army Signal Corps. He was ordered to take the train to Vancouver Barracks in Washington State to report for training.

Jensen came from a large farming family, like the rest of the residents in Montpelier. He was born in Brigham City, Utah on the 5th of December 1895 as the fifth son in a family of 15 and he was in pretty good health. Yet four and a half weeks after he had settled in with his bunk mates in April 1918, Jensen was running a fever. Over the course of four days it progressed to a dry hacking cough together with a runny nose and red splotches all over his body... all the symptoms of measles.

The tragedy was that World War 1 recruits like Jensen were vulnerable in their isolated living. Country living did not confer on the new recruits the immunities built up by a lifetime of urban exposure to other kinds of germs and viruses like mumps and measles. Young soldiers like Jensen were in danger of dying from bullets and poison gas when they made it over to the Western Front. The newly minted soldiers who were suddenly thrown into close living quarters in the training camps, barracks, and even the densely packed troop ship transports were also dying from diseases picked up on the home front before they even left the country. On the 9th day after he fell ill, Pvt.Lee Jensen of the Signal Corps, died from pneumonia, following the measles.

The front page news from the Montpelier Examiner (Bear Lake County, Idaho) published on Friday, April 12, 1918 gave the details surrounding the return of Pvt Jensen’s body to his father by Express Train No. 4 on Wednesday night. On the morning of Thursday, April 11, the casket bearing Lee’s body was escorted by a detachment of local Boy Scouts and the Montpelier Military Band played a dirge while it was taken to the rotunda of City Hall where friends were permitted to view the remains for an hour.

The funeral was held in the city hall auditorium starting at 1:00 pm, and started out with the singing of “America” by the Second Ward choir. The newspaper account described how “the business housed in the city all closed during the funeral hour. “ Services were conducted, and eulogies given honoring Pvt. Lee Jensen while his father and all of his brothers attended the funeral. The pallbearers at Pvt. Jensen’s funeral were veterans wearing their uniforms from prior conflicts including their Spanish American war uniforms of blue. Representatives from the old Second Idaho, were pallbearers wearing the modern uniform of khaki.

After a graveyard service at the Montpelier City Cemetery, “Taps” was played, and a final salute fired by the pallbearers. The casket, was lowered to its final resting place next to the grave of his mother, Christine, who died in 1910. Pvt. Lee Jensen, first casualty of the “War to end all Wars” was home to stay.

5d3f8226beea9 Lee Jensen draft registration

5d3f8226bf9c3 Lee Jensen headstone