Monday, December 30, 2013

Carl Neff Sacrificed His Life For Your Freedom

Carl W. Neff, World War I veteran.
Carl William Neff was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. He was killed in action during World War I while running a message during combat. He is the namesake of the American Legion Carl Neff Post 571 in Wesleyville, PA. 

Carl was born in Harborcreek, PA on January 17, 1892 and was the oldest of nine children. He briefly worked at General Electric, but mainly worked in the farming industry. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 29, 1918, despite being entitled to an exemption from war for farm workers. 

He was assigned to Machine Gun Company, 60th Infantry, Fifth Division and was sent to France, where he fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. 

Lt. Merrick wrote about the heroic actions of Carl Neff: "His willingness and smiling reliability in the midst of a series of attacks and daily infernos without food and water, sick and terribly exhausted and sometimes with the battle against us, was note-worthy, even in a band of desperate men. Finally, however, his exhaustion made it a great effort to perform his duty, but with great resolution he continued as messenger. Seeing he made the trip at an extreme effort, I told him to rest with the others. We took positions in shell holes about midnight. Before morning the Germans shelled us, blowing up an ammunition dump in our midst. Under orders of Captain Warfield, deceased, (then acting Major), we rushed into the exploding and blazing boxes of hand grenades, machine gun ammunition, and salvaged as much as possible for impending attacks. We experienced casualties here. Carl was evacuated from these woods. However, I can assure you that his actions previous to this time are well and gratefully remembered and that his cheerful service was a credit to those whom he represented."

Medic Frank A. Frazier wrote to his mother and asked if she could contact Carl's mother. Frank's letter said, "His tag read Carl W. Neff, we buried him on Montfaucon Oct. 29th. I imagine he was killed Oct. 28th. He was a large man, 5ft. 11 inches and would probably weigh 175 lbs. He was hit by machine gun bullets in three or four different places. We lived, or rather, existed on Montfaucon during October." 

Carl's body was returned to the United States and he was buried in the North East Cemetery.

Visit the American Legion Carl Neff Post 571 at 1917 Eastern Avenue in Erie County, PA to view the full text of this tribute to Carl Neff. The post was formed by veterans from Wesleyville, Lawrence Park and Harborcreek, PA.

Please check Old Time Erie for historic facts and photos of Erie, Pennsylvania.

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