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Promises & Poppies: UD’s First Gold Star Solider

By Sarah Allison

November 11th was originally designated as “Armistice Day” on the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress established November 11th as a national day of observance for veterans, living and dead, becoming a national holiday in 1938.

There were many students and alumni of St. Mary’s College who served in WWI. The traits of courage and noble sacrifice, “to god and country”, the college motto, followed these men into France.  Frank J. Goldcamp, a 1912 graduate of St. Mary’s College, followed the call to service for his country. The Goldcamp family was no stranger to military service nor St. Mary’s.  Frank’s brother Clarence was a student at the school in 1918, and two other brothers were graduates of the college. Goldcamp’s brothers, Clarence and Alfred, fought in the war and both were honorably discharged by 1919.

Belonging to Co. B, 6th Regiment as a part of the U.S. Engineers, Goldcamp was the first alumni to “sacrifice his life on foreign fields of honor”, according to the 1918 publication,  The Exponent. Goldcamp enlisted in Akron, Ohio June of 1917 and served until March of 1918 in the defense sector as a mechanic. Registered for the Somme Defensive, Goldcamp was killed trying to rescue his patrol leader, Sgt. Swingle. Goldcamp had volunteered to attempt to rescue his patrol leader with Pvt. Duncan. Duncan recalls the rest of the story in a letter home to Goldcamp’s family:

“But alas! He had scarcely finished when I heard a sound like clothing tearing, and then felt something had struck my right side. A bullet had pierced Frank through and hit me. Frank shouted “Oh, my God!” Turned one complete turn to the right, lay flat on his face, gaw a low, choking cough, and passed away. He never seemed to move again, so must have died almost instantly. Swingle supposed he was dead, but to make sure he called, “Goldcamp!” a few times, but received no answer.” – The Exponent

General Pershing awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor posthumously to Goldcamp in June of 1918. Goldcamp was one of the first Ohioans to sacrifice his life in and to receive this honor in WWI. The DSC is the second highest military honor in the United States under the Medal of Honor.  

By Sarah Allison, University Archives intern, Wright State University graduate student, Department of Public History

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