WALTER HELLMERS, CAPT, USA

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Lucky Bag

"W. Hellmars" — with an A — is among those listed under the heading "Lost In Action."

Loss

1918 Hellmers 1.jpg

Unable to find any details of Walter's loss, except that he was a member of the 12th Infantry Regiment. It was listed as "recent" in the history of his regiment, published in 1919.

The Register of Alumni gives no date of death or any other information.

Career

Walter joined the 12th Infantry Regiment on "October, 1917, as First Lieutenant, promoted to Captain, with rank from August 5, 1917. Commanded Companies 'A' and 'C'. Attended Divisional Schools at Camp Fremont, California."

Elsewhere in the book is an entertaining account of Company C. It includes in part:

When Captain Hellmers and Lieutenant Barrett replaced the former officers, a high standard of efficiency was set. In order to become a member of "C" Company, a soldier must possess natural ability and be well recommended by his former employer. Within a short time the new commander had gathered together the necessary number of able men, and his officers and non-commissioned officers had trained them to be soldiers. But General Graves kidnapped one hundred and sixty of them, and carried them to Siberia, leaving only the non-coms. and Privates Mullaney and Mitchell as a nucleus around which to form another Company "C."

It was a known fact that German spies were lurking around Camp Fremont. Had they gathered the information that "C" Company had been broken up, Von Hindenburg would have ordered his entire fighting forces against the Allies and the war would have been lost. But Captain Hellmers was too alert for the Huns. He worked while they slumbered. From the One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Depot Brigade he drew sixty-five men. The August draft brought to Camp Fremont the greatest collection of masculinities ever massed together in one body, and in this august assembly he found some excellent material for Company "C." Inasmuch as this was a selected bunch of men it might be well to mention that every State west of the Mississippi was represented. This detachment, however, did not fill the Company to war strength, so the Captain sent Sergeant Nuhn and Corporal Choder to the Casual Camp in quest of the Oklahoma recruits. The required number was there; a temporary roster was made and the detail was marched to "C" Company's quarters.

Returning from Camp Funston, Sergeant Anderson found the office of First Sergeant awaiting him. The first morning after the diamond chevron had been sewed upon his sleeve, he came out to look the new bunch over for prospective K. P.'s and corporals. He had just finished training three outfits for the National Army, but it seemed that his sacrifice for humanity was only half made. This bunch made the future look so gloomy that he didn't even have the courage to call the roll.

We worked seven hours a day for five days in the week, at night we rolled packs, and on Sunday we fired on the range. When a recruit would complain of being overworked, Sergeant Lewis would remind him that he was doing it for his country and not for the sake of keeping busy.

After three months of hard training and making bayonet faces we left the sunny coast of California for the port of embarkation, and arrived there just in time to go on guard.

When the First Battalion paraded at Camp Fremont, "C" Company was the only company which attracted the Colonel's attention. He suggested to Captain Hellmers that it would be more military if every man came to right shoulder arms at the same time, and in three counts. This being termed a wise suggestion, the Captain added an extra half hour to the drill schedule in order to comply.

No member of our Company had any desire to take up lodging at the guard house. When a regulation was violated, and the offender was found guilty, the Captain would turn him over to "Joe," the Italian cook. A single day on kitchen police, when Joe was in charge of the kitchen, was equal to three months in the mill. Joe also was the best stew maker in the Eighth Division. We are indebted to the city of Seattle for having sent a man like Joe to our Company, whose buzz-saw appetites he was able to satisfy.

While Company "C" was trained for combat service in France, the only service rendered to Uncle Sam was guard duty. At this pastime we are acknowledged to be champion of the world.

Now that some of us are nearing the time for retirement to civil life, we vow that Company "C" will be the one to receive us should our nation again need our services.

He is listed on an "In Memoriam" page without any details.

Memorial Hall Error

Though Walter is listed as "killed in action" during World War I, there is no evidence to support this. He is not listed as an overseas casualty, and his regiment never left the United States.

Suspect he was lost during the influenza epidemic; if so, he should not be listed in Memorial Hall.


Class of 1918

Walter is one of 14 members of the Class of 1918 in Memorial Hall.