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Aaron A. Platner, World War I soldier

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Ellis Kans.

July 22 1919

My dear Sir.

Sometime ago you wrote me for the war record of my son Major Aaron A. Platner (native Kansan) who died of wounds received in the Argonne while leading his battalion (1st. 9th Inf Reg) in the face

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of withering machine gun fire. I did not have his record at that time but have it now as complete as I will ever be able to get it. I have also an enlarged picture 16x20 which I wish to present to the historical society have you an appropriation for framing pictures if not let me know how much a small [XXXX] frame will cost and I will send you the money. he would be 28 yrs old next Saturday July 26th and I would like to have the picture

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hung that day. He was awarded the [XXXX] Croix de guerre and promoted to major for his excellent leadership in the Argonne I think he is one of Kansas most distinguished soldiers and as such I am glad to send you his history as taken from 9th Infantry records

yours truly

Andrew Platner

Ellis Kas.

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A. Platner

Ellis. KS.

 

9th Inf

[XXXX]

 

Mr. V.E. [XXXX]

State Historical Bureau

State Capital

Topeka Kans.

 

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July 23, 1919

Mr. Andrew Platner,

Ellis, Kansas.

 

Dear sir-

I received your favor of the 22” inst., concerning your son Anson A. Platner who died of wounds received in the Argonne battle. Please send us a biographical sketch of this soldier giving us particularly the company, regiment and division in which he served, the date of his birth, the date of his death, and where he died. I enclose you herewith card which has an outline for a biographical sketch. Write as much as you desire but cover the points named on the card.

We received the photograph but we are not prepared yet to frame and hang up the photographs we are obtaining of soldiers. Most of them are very small and not suitable for framing. The legislature made no appropriation for caring for these soldiers of the great war although we pressed the matter all through the session. The photograph you sent would be suitable for framing but we should like to hang up all the portraits of these Kansas boys at one time so have not been putting up any of their portraits to this date. We hope the legislature will make it possible to put up a good portrait of all them at one time.

Sincerely yours,

Secretary

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TO OUR HERO

 

The following letters concerning Major Aaron Platner of Ellis, are so fine that we take the liberty of reprinting them. Life after all doesn’t consist so much in “years” as in deeds and accomplishments. We would consider life well spent if at its close the splendid things here written could be said of us:

 

France, November 5, 1918.

 

Miss Nora Platner

 

Ellis, Kansas.

 

Dear Miss Platner:

 

Last evening as I was performing my duties on the receiving ward it was my privilege to prepare your brother, Major Aaron A. Platner, for the operating room. He was quite exhausted but able to talk and seemed overjoyed when he found I was also from Kansas; told me he had a sister over here who was a nurse; he did not know just where she was located. Unfortunately I did not ask her name or address in France. I found your name in the pocketbook he had and asked me to keep until this morning fearing he would loose it going through the operating room. He told me something of his work over here which I think was wonderful and when his name was mentioned in the ward a number of heads popped up and said, “I’m still with you, Major,” he seemed so very proud and said, “They all know me.” Several told how brave and good he had been.

 

 

Death came to him a few hours after the operation and the chaplain held a simple service over his body this afternoon.

 

My heart goes out to you so far away, who have given such a priceless gift for the cause and this note is written with the hope that it will be of some comfort to you in this your hour of sorrow.

 

Very sincerely

 

Vesta G. Hoyt, R.N., 4 Place de la Concorde, Paris, France.

 

The following letter from a life long friend of Major Platner’s tells of the esteem in which he was held and as it expresses the feeling of all his rfiends we asked permission to publish it:

 

“Of all the boys whom we knew who were “over there,” not one was dearer or more admired by us girls than your Aaron, so you may know how saddened we were yesterday when we heard that he had been called upon to make the supreme sacrifice for our country. The news brought the war home nearer to us than anything was before, for until one’s own circle of friends is touched it is hard to realize that hundreds of just such fine, splendid boys have given themselves in the most glorious cause God ever called men to fight for.

 

There is nothing I can say, dear Mrs. Platner, which will in any way lessen the sorrow in your heart, but I do want you to know that we are grieving with you, and you will be often in our thoughts and prayers.

 

Ever since we used to play together out on the farm, Aaron was a special favorite of ours, because of his unselfish, loveable disposition and most of all for his thoughtful sonsideration of his mother. How often we have spoken of him and wished he lived near so we might enjoy his companionship. I know of no boy among my acquaintances of  whom I have heard as many kind remarks, from the time he was a tiny fellow as your son. Every one loved and admired him. And because we know him so intimately we realize how great the sacrifice you have been called upon to make and how our hearts ache to do something for you. To have been the mother of such a son certainly is the greatest honor you could have.

 

And although we will not have the joy of continuing our friendship, we will never forget Aaron, and he will ever live in our hearts, dearer than ever, a constant reminder of the beauty of giving and doing for others. I’m sure my country means more to me because a friend loved it enough to die for it. So many people here have asked us and expressed such sorrow when they heard of your loss, and all had a splendid tribute to add to Aaron’s memory.

 

Ellsworth, Kansas, Dec. 1.

 

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EVIEW-HEADLIG

 

ELLIS, KANSAS, OCTOBER 7, 1921.  Issued Every Friday.

 

MAJOR AARON A. PLATNER

 

Final honors were accorded the Kansas hero of Blanc Mont Ridge when, on the anniversary of the great battle, the body of Major Platner, 9th Infantry, was reverently laid in the family vault at Ellsworth cemetery by the friends and companions of his boyhood days.

 

Escorted by a former 9th Infantry officer from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, the body arrived in Ellsworth where it was met by the family and friends. Sunday moning the Episcopal funeral services were read by the Rev. Canon Morrow in the church of the Holy Apostles in the presence of the family and immediate friends. The body laid in state here until the afternoon when it was borne to a larger building—the Presbyterian church—where the following Memorial services were conducted by the American Legion:

 

Star Spangled Banner—Pianist.

 

Prayer—Rev. Canon Morrow.

 

Music, Quartet—Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.

 

Reading obituary and letter of Brig. Gen. Ely—G.L., Waldo.

 

Address—Rev. Canon Morrow.

 

Solo—Crossing the Bar—Mr. Hinchee.

 

Quartet—Lest We Forget.

 

Benediction—Rev. Morrow.

 

The music was in charge of Capt. George Fairchild, who was the representative of The Fort Sheridan Association.

 

Canon Morrow, in speaking of Major Platner said: “He died as he lived, doing his duty in the state of life into which it had pleased God to call him. He was a splendid citizen, an honor to his family, to the city of his birth, to Kansas and to the United States for which he gave his life. God grant that we, who remain, shall so conduct ourselves that this sacrivce shall not be in vain.”

 

Borne from the Presbyterian church by six men—Masonic and military comrades of Major Platner—thebody was placed in a funeral car and was followed by a Masonic and military funeral cortage that was one of the largest seen in western Kansas.

 

All flags in the city remained at half mast.

 

The Masonic ceremonies at the grave were very impressive. Joe Viers, the only member of the 2nd Division from Ellis, came from Kansas City to command the firing squad who belonged to the Aaron A. Platner Post. A bugler from the Ellsworth Post blew taps and [XXXX]

 

“Here in the land he loved so, here in the quiet town,

 

Like a child worn out from a journey, we laid him gently down.

 

Let no tears fall where he lieth, he would have none of tears,

 

Life was a gay adventure all though his few short years.

 

Dead? Lie is only sleeping! Resting there neath the grass,

 

Watching the long white moonbeams and the Kansas cloud rifts pass.

 

Sleeping because he is weary, and would seek his well-earned rest,

 

So let us leave him quet, steal away it is best.

 

Steal away for a moment, leave him alone with his dreams,

 

While we go on our journey, with a song in our hearts and say,

“did you hear the good news, Buddy, a MAN came home today?”

 

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VOLUME 40

 

ELLSWORTH SOLDIER HERO LAID TO REST

 

Funeral of Major Aaron Platner Was Held in His Native City Sunday

 

The funeral service for Major Aaron Platner was held in the Episcopal church of this city Sunday morning, October 2, at 11 o’clock, conducted by Dr. Morrow. The choir sang “Asleep in Jesus” and “Now the Laborer’s Task is O’er.” Mrs. Edith Alden Johns sang “He Giveth His Beloved Sleep.”

 

The American Legion had charge of the service in the afternoon, which was held at the Presbyterian church at 3 o’clock. After prayer by Dr. Morrow, a quartet composed of Mrs. A.H. Barofsky, Miss Marie Bower, Charles Hinchee and George Fairchild, sane “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.” A life sketch was read by Guy Waldo of Ellis following a beautiful rendition of Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” by Charles Hinchee.

 

Dr. Morrow made a short address in which a beautiful tribute was paid to the memory of one to whom so large a number had assembled to pay homage. The quartet then sang Kipling’s Recessional. Miss Naomi Enyeart was accompanist.

 

The American Legion of Ellis in uniform, bearing the beautiful flag of their post, which has been named in honor of Major Platner, marched as escort in company with Ellsworth’s American Legion Post and the Masonic bodies. 

 

The pallbearers were Guy Waldo, Wayne Robertson, Henry Leisering, Fred Vose, Leland Johnson, all of Ellis, and John Alden of Ellsworth. The honorary pallbearers were six Knights Templar of St. Aldemar Commandery.

 

Joe Viers, only member of the Second Division belonging to the Ellis post, came from Kansas City to command the firing squad.

 

Many Ellsworth county people who knew and admired Aaron Platner, the boy, and who had watched with much pride his advancement with the passing years,  received the news of his death with deep regret and together with many friends from Ellis, Salina, Hutchinson and other towns where he was well known, unite in paying tribute to one with so heroic a record as the following account, taken from the war records, affirms:

 

Aaron A. Platner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew  Platner, was born in Ellsworth county, Kansas, July 26, 1891. He attended school in Ellsworth until his parents moved to Ellis, where he finished the high school course. He was employed by the Ellsworth Mill & Elevator Co. for one year when he went to Wyoming and taught school at Ishawooa, Park county, returning in May 1912. He then entered the machine shops at Ellis where he remained until April 26, 1917, the day he was ordered by the war department to report at Chicago for enlistment in an officers [XXXX] camp. He was turned down by the army surgeon who discovered an affection of the heart, caused by his work in the gaseous atmosphere of the old machine shops at Ellis. Platner returned home and again applied for admission to an army camp. He abstained from heavy physical labor as a heart sure and sold Liberty Bonds for outdoor exercise as prescribed by his physician. For two months he assisted the Farmers State Bank and the American National Bank of Hutchinson in their extra work due to war activities. He was again ordered to Ft. Sheridan where he was given a commission as Capt. Of Infantry, November 7, and sent to France as a casual, reaching Blois January 27, 1918. On account of his mechanical knowledge he was detailed to take charge of the classification of railroad engineer officers as they arrived from the states. He was transferred to Angers about the last of February and detailed as master mechanic. About the middle of March he was transferred to Gievres, where he acted as representative of the Director General of Transportation. [written in margin] Gen. W.W. Atterbury  About the first of April he asked to be transferred back to the infantry as he felt that he could be of more service at the front.. He was accordingly assigned to a training sector where he was commandant until ordered to the front where he was assigned as Captain of Co. B, 9th Infantry at Bulligay. At San Mihiel he first distinguished himself. “The Major who commanded his battalion was counter attacked and ordered a retreat. Captain Platner refused to retreat and held the position with his company and Lt. McCabe’s platoon of Co. D. For this Captain Platner was given command of the 1st battalion and publicly commended by General Hanson E. Ely.”

 

“Prisoners captured at this time by the 9th Infantry were 1699 men, property 17 camps, 76 large guns, one hospital train, one narrow gauge railroad, several ammunition store houses, machine guns, one signal wagon complete, 36 horses.” (History of 9th Infantry World War, Chapter 4, page 20)

 

Battle of Blanc-Mont Ridge. “Then came the terrible Champagne offensive. Captain Platner’s battalion was the first over the top, actually making the relief of French Chasseurs without guides or maps. They encountered a heavy volume of machine gun fire but closed up on the barrage. The Germans (Saxon troops) stayed by their guns and fought to the end. The battle of Blanc Mont Ridge lasted seven days. The prisoners taken were 1389, including one colonel and sixty officers. Material captured, 120 machine guns, 10 minenwerfers, 20 pieces of artillery. Major General John A. Lejeune, in General Orders says: “Officers and men of the 2nd division it is beyond my power of expression to describe fitly my admiration for your behavior. You attacked magnificently and you seized Blanc Mont Ridge the keystone of the arch constituting the enemy’s main position. You broke the enemy’s llnes and held the ground with a tenacity unsurpassed in the annals of war. To be able to say when this war is over, “I belonged to the Second Division

(continued on page 8)

 

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PAGE EIGHT

 

ELLSWORTH SOLDER-HERO

 

(Continued from page 1.)

I fought with it at the battle of Blanc Mont Ridge” will be the highest honor can come to any man.”

 

For his work in this battle Captain Platner was recommended by General Ely for the D.S.C. in the following words:

 

The Distinguished Service Cross to be awarded to Captain Aaron A. Platner, 9th Infantry, for extraordinary heroism in action near Medeah Farm (Blanc Mont Ridge) France      October 3-9, 1918. He repeatedly led his battalion against machine gun nests, through terrific enemy bombardment until his objectives were attained. His gallant example to his troops was an important factor in the success of the entire attack.” He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the General commanding the 4th French army.

 

The regimental paper, “Ninth Infantry Cootie,” Vol. 17, gives the most notable incidents by companies of the battle of Blanc Mont Ridge “On October 5th at sundown company C jumped off for the second time that day. The company marched along the road in the face of wicked shell fire and machine gun barrage, to take up the assault position. They advanced two kilometers when they were held up by an enemy strong point, in the woods covering them with enfiladed machine gun fire. The lamented Major Platner, than whom the American army boasts no braver soldier (who was later killed in the Argonne) saved many lives by his cool judgment at this juncture. He ordered all men to push to the nearby woods and jump down on their bellies. The French troops had failed to advance on the right, owing to great enemy opposition and therefore the right [page torn] [XXXX] company was exposed.  [page torn] [XXXX], by adroit movement the company succeeded in counterflanking the Germans who lost no time in withdrawing their position.”

 

The Ninth Infantry was relieved from its tour of duty with the 4th French army. It let its billets at Courtisols and marched to the woods south of Exermont. It moved into place for the Meuse-Argonne battle after dark October 30, and then began the final night drive on Beaumont. In “Who’s Who and Why” written by Sergeant Dingevan, company A. 9th Infantry, Major Platner’s last fight is there recorded:

 

“On the night of November 2nd one of the most brilliant maneuvers of the war was executed by the first battalion of the 9th Infantry, under the command of Major A.A. Platner. The battalion and company commanders held a council of war at regimental headquarters, the result of which was that we were told to go three kilometers in front of our present front line and there must be absolute silence and no smoking. It was pitch dark, raining hard and we were wet to the hide. At last the order came from the head of the column in a whisper,  ‘Forward March.’ We finally cleared our front line which the Marines were holding. All went well for about one hour when a machine gun opened upon us about fifty yards ahead. The Major ordered auto rifle teams to investigate. They reported three companies of German infantry and machine guns holding the line. Up to this time no word had been spoken by the Americans, but the Germans were much excited, talking and moving about. Major Platner ordered 3 platoons of company A to form a

skirmish line in the road and work down to the Boche line and clean out. We soon ran onto them and it was a battle royal. It was too dark to see anything. We captured over fifty, the remainder made tracks for Berlin. The battalion arrived at its objective at 6 a. m. November 3rd.  At 6.15 we stepped over again. Nothing of importance happened until 1 p. m.  We just mounted a high hill where we were fired on by machine guns from a millon places. The Boche rained machine gun bullets on us like hail stones and we were helpless for a few minutes. The 15th Field Artillery was called on and put on a barrage that started the Germans on another run toward Berlin. We had now covered 30 kilometers under very trying circumstances. We had practically no rest and only one hot meal in four days. We had a few casualties from this attack, M[XXXX] [newspaper clipping torn] Platner and Captain Randol[XXXX] [newspaper clipping torn] company A being among them.

 

For this maneuver Major Pl[XXXX] [newspaper clipping torn] was again cited by his commading [newspaper clipping looks like it was torn and taped together at this point] General in the following words:”For gallantry in action near Nuart, France, November 2, and fr[clipping looks like it was torn and taped together at this point] his brilliant leadership of his batalion Major A. A. Platner is cited and entited to wear a silver star on the Victory Medal ribbon.” (Ciation [clipping looks like it was torn and taped together at this point] Orders No. 4, G. H. Q., A. E. F.)

 

To the American Legion, Ellis Kansas, belongs the proud distiaction of having named their post after the most distinguished native born Kansan lying under the leaves of the Argonne forest---Aaron A. Platner Post, No. 151.


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