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In 1921, Albert H. Anderson was hailed — posthumously — as a war hero in Fremont.

That’s the year his body was returned from overseas where he’d died during World War I.

In 1918, Anderson was serving with the 128th Infantry and sent to the front during the Germans’ last attempt to take Paris.

Anderson was storming a German machine gun nest about 15 miles north of Soissons, when he was shot and died instantly.

Three years later, Fremonters honored the fallen soldier and a funeral took place in his family’s home at 309 N. L St.

The son of Caspar and Julia Anderson was 31 years old.

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Almost 26 years later, another area family faced grief, too.

Herbert and Elizabeth Ring were publishers of the Hooper Sentinel newspaper.

In 1944, their only son — 1st Lt. Theodore Ring — was an air transport pilot.

Ring had become one of the pilots who flew the treacherous aerial “Burma Road” across the Himalaya Mountains, transporting supplies to China.

That July, he was reported missing. Days later, his parents published perhaps the saddest news they’d ever known: The war department had confirmed that their son was killed.

He was 24 years old.

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Decades have passed since those young men’s deaths, but as many families know — behind every fallen soldier is a Gold Star Mother.

By definition, Gold Star Mothers are Americans who’ve lost sons or daughters in service to the United States Armed Forces.

Now, members of an area organization are working to pay special tribute to deceased mothers of fallen service members by placing a Gold Star Mother’s Grave Marker where each of the women is buried.

Members of the Women’s Auxiliary of American Legion Post 121, Jay Wormwood Chapter in Scribner, have taken on the project.

Carol Verbeek is co-chairman for the project through which 34 grave markers were placed in cemeteries in northern Dodge County last year. The mothers posthumously honored had adult children who’d served in different wars.

Weather permitting, plans are to place another 33 markers — mostly at graves in Ridge Cemetery — at 1 p.m. Nov. 11, 2018 — the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. A brief flag ceremony will take place at the cemetery during which each of the mothers buried at Ridge will be acknowledged as are their sons, who died during World War I.

Other markers have yet to be placed in the area or will need to be mailed to families of women who were from Dodge County, but have been buried elsewhere.

Funds for the marker project have come from a Scribner Foundation grant, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, donations from the auxiliary and Legion post and individuals.

The idea for the project started two years ago after Verbeek saw information about the markers in the American Legion Flag & Emblem catalog.

Verbeek decided she wanted to get one for her grandmother, Cora Rounds Jones of Blair, who’s a Gold Star Mother.

Jones was 36 years old when she died — prior to the time when two of her sons were killed in wars.

But she still earned the title.

Her son — and Verbeek’s dad — Teddy “David” Jones was 20 years old when enemy planes strafed the convoy he was in and he died in Germany during World War II. He was killed in October 1944.

Verbeek’s uncle James Jones was in the Army Air Corps (later the U.S. Air Force) at the end of World War II and was called back to duty for the Korean War.

James Jones was a tail gunner whose plane was shot down after a bombing mission.

“His body was never found although there were reports that he was a P.O.W. (Prisoner of War), but he was never repatriated,” Verbeek said.

After her dad died, Verbeek was put up for adoption. She was 8 months old and her adoptive parents, Ralph and Dorothy Peterson, were from Cedar County. Ralph Peterson wrote down information about Verbeek’s biological mother and gave that data to the Scribner woman when she was a teenager.

Verbeek married and had a family. When her daughter, Carrie, started asking about her grandparents and other extended family, Verbeek began researching her biological relatives.

That’s how she learned about Cora Jones. Verbeek would get a Gold Star marker for her grandmother and her husband’s grandma, whose son died of tuberculosis during World War II.

Verbeek asked the auxiliary about doing a project in which deceased Gold Star Mothers would be located in Dodge County and a marker put at each of their graves. With shipping and tax, each marker costs about $40.

The auxiliary opted to take on the project.

“Nobody counted heads before we started so we had no idea how many people we were dealing with,” she said.

Verbeek and Georgean Abel, who volunteers at Scribner’s Musbach Museum, began doing some research. The museum has obituaries and other information about area veterans, which helped in finding the Gold Star Mothers.

Verbeek said Gold Star Mothers are those whose son or daughter — any uniformed service member — dies while serving their country.

“They don’t have to die in battle of wounds. They don’t have to die of disease during a war,” Verbeek said.

Verbeek has seen some sad stories. She cites the one of Charles Henry Peters born in between Snyder and West Point.

Verbeek said Peters was a pilot flying a Douglas Skyhawk Attack Aircraft over North Vietnam when the plane crashed near Hon Gay, Province Quang Ninh in July 1966. He was 39 years old.

His remains were recovered in 1988 and he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

But his mother, Katherina, who’d been living in Hawaii, died, was cremated and buried at sea before that occurred.

Verbeek said she has ideas, but isn’t certain about what would be done regarding a marker for Peters’ mom.

“We have that to figure out before the third phase begins,” she said.

Verbeek said she has two-thirds of the research done for deceased Gold Star Mothers whose adult children died in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

She opted to research those wars first for the project’s third phase since there are such a large number of Gold Star Mothers representing World War II.

Verbeek estimates it may take two years to complete research and raise funds for markers for Gold Star Mothers from World War II.

In the meantime, she and other auxiliary members look forward to honoring the World War I Gold Star Mothers at Ridge Cemetery next month.

Verbeek sees the value in paying tribute to these women.

“My philosophy is: What better way to honor the soldiers than by honoring their mothers?” she said. “It was something that we decided needed to be done.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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