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Lawrence Reynolds

Submitted by: Pamela Jean Follstaedt Adams {Granddaughter}

Lawrence ReynoldsLawrence Reynolds born around 1894. Lawrence Reynolds served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1914 and the service was completed in 1920.

Story of Service

Night was descending and all the soldiers around him had fallen one by one.  They were picked off like targets at a carnival shooting game as the enemy sent shells whistling through the air toward the 9-man company.  He steadied himself behind his machine gun and waited for the next German to dare show himself in the clearing in the trees.  BOOM!  A bomb explodes and sends him hurling through the air.  BOOM!  Another bomb explodes and returns him to the bunker he coveted for shelter.  Was there help?  Were there reinforcements?  Would he survive?

This was the long night of May 8, 1918, Lawrence Reynolds had in World War I that awarded him a purple heart and a silver star.  Lawrence held the German forces away through the evening, by himself, until his buddies came to look for the squad in the morning and rescued him.  By keeping the Germans away he held the field for the allies and prevented a full attack by the Germans.

Out of drinking water, Lawrence drank the only thing he could find, the water in the machine gun that was used to cool it.  For his bravery, he received lead poisoning and nearly died.  He was blown out of and back into the bunker several times which resulted in a back injury that plagued him the rest of his life.  But despite all of this, even after Lawrence had to shoot a German who managed to make it up the hill, he still left the safety of his bunker to help the wounded enemy only to find he was too late.

--Taken from “A Hero’s Story”, Liberating Letters Vol.1, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 20, 2016)  Also available at:

Lawrence Reynolds was born in the tiny town of McKinney, Kentucky, on October 10, 1894. His mother died when he was 9 and his father was killed in an accident seven years later. When Lawrence’s mother died, his father made an agreement with a neighbor. If anything happened to him, the neighbor would take care of the kids and visa versa. However, when Lawrence’s dad died after his thrashing machine fell on him, the neighbor took everything and ignored the children. So, at age 16, Lawrence was on his own as his older and only surviving brother was already out of the house. His three younger sisters were sent away to live with family. For three years, Lawrence worked on a friend’s family farm for pennies a day.

Now 19, without a promising future, Lawrence decided to become a soldier. On April 25, 1914, he told Ohio recruiters at the Columbus Barracks that he was 22, and enlisted in the United States Army. He was sent to Arizona where he and a friend earned some extra cash by offering laundry services to the other soldiers. In 1916, Lawrence chased Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916 under General John J. Pershing. As the troops were heading home in early 1917, the Germans sank the Housatonic and tried to engage Mexico’s help against America with the Zimmerman Telegram. As a result, the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I.

Lawrence headed to France in the first wave of American soldiers to Europe. As part of the First Division, otherwise known as the Big Red One, Lawrence was a gunner in the 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Machine Gun Battalion, Co. C.

As the US Army organized the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), Lawrence and his close friend since bootcamp were informed they would be squad leaders. Not wanting to be separated, the pair went AWOL to Nancy, France for a few days. They returned believing their unauthorized vacation would disqualify them from being put in charge of others. They were wrong. Upon their returned their commander informed them their little stunt didn’t work. Each received their own squad and were sent out to secure the front line. Lawrence’s buddy experienced a similar battle as he did on May 8th, yet that entire squad was eliminated while Lawrence was the only survivor in his squad.

Lawrence participated in all major campaigns the Big Red One engaged in which won him a second silver star, the French Great War Commemorative Medal and the French Fourragère de la Croix de Guerre. His Victory Medal displays campaign bars for Montdidier-Noyon, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and the Defensive Sector while receiving campaign medals for Verdun and St. Mihiel, which he added to his Mexican Service Medal.

Towards the end of the war, Lawrence was promoted to Sergeant, soon becoming a Supply Sergeant in 1919. He returned to the states in November of 1919 where he was stationed at Fort Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, until his honorable discharge on June 4, 1920.

Following his release, Lawrence visited his sister, who had married and moved to Middletown, Ohio. She encouraged him to come apply for a job at the local steel mill. However, it was the sweet 16-year-old named Ella living next door to his sister that stirred the 25-year-old to make Middletown his home. Her parents made them wait until she was 18 before they married, which they did in 1921. With only a 4th grade education, Lawrence taught himself the slide rule, which allowed him the skills to be promoted to supervisor at the steel mill. Now a husband, father, and hardworking, blue-collar steelmaker, Lawrence never forgot his days in the army. Extremely proud of his country and his service, Lawrence became very active in the town’s American Legion, where played bugle for the organization.

Lawrence and Ella raised three children, and have nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He was the most decorated WWI veteran from Middletown, Ohio. The couple lived through the Great Depression, a serious car accident which Lawrence thought killed his pregnant wife, an illness that almost did kill Ella and Lawrence being hit by a car while crossing the street. However, Lawrence could not overcome his heart issues. He died on November 3, 1968, and is buried in Woodside Cemetery.

Below are a number of my blogs on regarding World War I. Several refer to Lawrence and his connection to the event or person, marked with a *.

The Shot That Changed The World

If Only For A Moment

The Ottoman Empire Strikes Back

*The Forgotten General

The Day America’s Neutrality Sank

*Duty First

*The Red Knight Of Germany

*The Big Red Won

A Hero’s Hero

Veterans’ Day

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