This program is part of the area wide WWI centennial commemoration
Presentation by Gregg Clemmer and Nancy Sorrells
For all we know, the two young men knew each other – after all Ashby Forrest Painterlived in the very southern part of Augusta County in the little community called Ellard and Herman Leonard Clemmer grew up just a few miles away in Rockbridge County. Both were Presbyterian, Painter went to Pines Chapel, and Clemmer attended Old Providence. Painter was born in 1889 and Clemmer in 1890.
The other thing that they had in common? Both men lost their lives in service to their country in the Great War. Clemmer, a member of the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division, was killed in France on July 22, 1918. Painter, a member of the 89th Division, 241 Machine Gun Company, was gassed in the Argonne Forest in the fall of 1918. Although critically wounded, he did not die on the battlefield. Rather he was shipped home and lingered in a veterans’ hospital in North Carolina until early 1922. He passed away in March 3, 1922.
Historians and authors Gregg Clemmer and Nancy Sorrells will tell the stories of their family’s almost forgotten soldiers – two local boys who represent the thousands of young men who went off to serve their country in WWI and never returned. And, while the stories of the two men are typical of those who served in World War I, the twisting, turning detective work needed to uncover the facts are somewhat unusual. Clemmer’s story comes via a framed photograph found in a trash pile in Nebraska. Painter’s tale was uncovered on a nearly 70-year-old quilt in North Carolina.