Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice 100 years ago | SteamboatToday.com
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Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice 100 years ago

Steamboat Springs Civil Air Patrol cadets Marek DeMorat, right, and Graham Salazar place flags Thursday next to veteran tombstones at Steamboat Springs Cemetery.
Matt Stensland

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In October 1918, Hayden resident Benjamin Hofstetter found himself thousands of miles from home, surrounded by tense fighting and enemy soldiers in the Argonne Forest in northern France close to the German border.

The 22-year-old private, who graduated from Hayden High School in 1913, was part of the Lost Battalion, which was a name given to nine companies of the United States 77th Division that included about 554 men.

The soldiers were isolated in the Argonne Forest by German forces during World War I after an American attack. Hofstetter was among the roughly 197 men who were killed in action during the campaign, and he would never again return to the Yampa Valley.



Today, the American Legion post in Hayden bears his name.

“Ninety percent of the American Legion posts throughout the state are named after somebody who died in action from their town or their location,” said Jim Stanko, Steamboat Springs historian and a veteran who is involved with the local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.



In Yampa, the American Legion Post bears the name of Sgt. John Harvey Bird, who lost his life at the battle of Soissons in Northern France during WWI. The American Legion Post is named after Leo J. Hill, who died in the battle of Chateau Thierry, also in France, in July 1918.

The VFW Post in Steamboat Springs is named after two soldiers who died in World War II — Bernard S. Schubring who was killed in Anzio, Italy, in 1944 and Charles Joseph Cruse, who was killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.

All of those men, along with many other men and women from Routt County, will be honored Monday during Memorial Day ceremonies in Steamboat Springs, Yampa and Hayden. 

“It’s not only about remembering veterans, but to remember family and friends and neighbors that have passed on,” said Stanko, who helps organize the ceremony at the Steamboat Springs Cemetery. “I still remember Memorial Day from the older days. It was a day when families from all over the county came to the cemetery to decorate graves, and to remember the loved ones that they had lost.”

The Steamboat Springs Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264 and American Legion Post 44 will host its annual Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. Monday at the Steamboat Springs Cemetery. Stanko said the city will provide bus service from the Stockbridge Transit Center starting at 9:40 a.m. with the final bus leaving for the ceremony at 10:40 a.m.

Boy Scouts from Troop 194 took time Thursday evening to place flags on the graves of Routt County veterans in advance of the ceremony, which will honor the more than 600 men and women from Routt County who have served in the Armed Forces. Seventy of these veterans are buried in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery.

The ceremony will include a rider-less horse, the changing-of-the-guard, a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps.

In Yampa, the Memorial Day ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Monday at the Yampa Cemetery, and in Hayden, American Legion Post 89 will hold a similar ceremony at the Hayden Cemetery starting at 6 p.m. followed by a free hamburger supper at the Legion Hut, 220 Third Street.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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