• A 155 mm howitzer of the American Expeditionary Force in action in France during World War I. COURTESY PHOTO/NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL

Local boy Fletcher Wynne served in the Great War

Many of Burleson’s able and fit young men sailed across the big water to France to fight beside allies of the United States during World War I. Fletcher Wynne is the one I will focus on today. The reason being is that his daughter, Janie Stephens, provided me with a photo album containing many of the documents she used to honor her father and his service to the war effort.

The first page in the album is a copy of Fletcher Johnson Wynne’s World War I Draft Registration Card dated June 5, 1917, and signed by C.C. Taylor. Page 2 is his original Registration Certificate notifying him to report to his local draft board in Cleburne on June 26, 1918. Page 3 is Fletcher’s original Order of Induction Into Military Service of the United States and to report for duty in Cleburne on July 6, 1918.

The pages that follow are his Individual Pay Record Book, a photo of Fletcher and a fellow soldier in full WWI uniform, his meal ticket while on board the U.S. Navy armed transport, Leviathan, and a page from his diary after arriving in France on October 6, 1918.

The Album does not have any information about his time serving in the war. The next pages are pictures he made of a winter scene while visiting Niagara Falls upon his arrival back into the United States. Fletcher and others must have taken a few days of vacation before returning to Camp Bowie in Texas, to be honorably discharged on April 4, 1919. His Honorable Discharge from the United States Army, Enlistment Record and his Adjusted Compensation for Service Certificate are also in the Album. Fletcher J. Wynne passed away in 1971.

Serving in World War I must have been a great adventure for Fletcher and other country boys from around Burleson. Just imagine boys from Johnson County who probably had never seen the bright lights of Dallas, going to New York City and seeing the tall buildings, visiting Niagara Falls and sailing across the Atlantic on a huge ship. Upon arrival in France they were introduced to French cuisine and French culture. This reminds me of the popular song of the era, “How ya Gonna to Keep’em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree.” This overseas experience brought the United States into the next decade referred to as the “Roaring Twenties.” I am not sure the “Twenties” ever roared into Burleson.     

The final two pages contain a certificate signed by President Nixon which reads as follows:  The United States of America honors the memory of Fletcher J. Wynne.This Certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the armed forces of the United States.

The last page in the album is the City of Burleson Certificate of Honor which was presented to Fletcher’s family by Mayor Ken Shetter on Jan. 24, 2014. A brick was placed in Burleson Veteran’s Memorial of Honor in his memory.

A copy of Janie’s photo album is available for viewing at the Burleson Visitors Center and Museum. On behalf of the Burleson Heritage Foundation, I want to thank Janie Stephens for all the work she does to preserve the history of her family and the city of Burleson. She is an asset to our great city.

John Duke Smith is a local history buff. Do you have a question for him?  John Duke Smith can be reached by email at johndukesmith@sbcglobal.com

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