Pvt, H Co., 356th Inf., 89th Div. Enlisted Apr 1918 at Independence, MO.
Honor Roll Casualty List Dec 18, 1918.
Born 6 Apr 1891, Topeka KS. Son of Anna S. & (the late) Alfred AKERSTROM, Topeka, KS.
Died on November 22nd, 1918 from wounds sustained on the night of November 10th between 8:30 pm and midnight The injuries, machine gun shots in his legs were sustained in the area of the confluence of the Meuse and Wame Rau rivers near Pouilly-sur-Meuse in one of the final battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, just a dozen hours before the Armistice, marking the end of hostilities, was signed at 11 am on November 11th.
The following is from newspaper reports at the time his death was announced:
"The young man was taken, soon after he fell, to a field hospital, where he was kept for some time waiting to gain strength enough to be moved to a base hospital. He had wounds in his hand and the lower leg, the latter proving so severe that the leg had to be amputated just below the knee. He was too weak from loss of blood to survive the operation.
A few days before his death the young man wrote to his mother (in Topeka) telling her that he was recovering from his injuries, and that she had no cause to worry. A few hours after receipt of that message, a wire came from Washington, announcing the death of the young soldier. Letters from the Red Cross were later received, confirming the news, and telling of the closing hours of the young man's life, when his last words had been of his mother. His death came, the letter said, as the bugle was sounding taps. His grave is in a cemetery on a hill overlooking Paris (Suresnes Military Cemetery) a place reserved for the American soldiers.
Another account of the night action was found in a November 27, 1918 letter from the front:
"My dear family,..... My but it was -- terrific! Mud knee deep on the roads. Influenza sending our fittest back but we kept going and kept Heinie running until he at last bucked on the Meuse and blew up all the bridges so we had to wait a couple of days till our engineers could construct raft bridges and then we crept down to the river in the darkness, the engineers swam the frozen water fastening the flimsy bridge to the other bank. Then Fritz's outposts worked their telephones and the waiting enemy machine gunners and artillery through in a hail of steel and lead such as I have never seen in my experience before, but we got over or some of us did."
Originally buried in French soil (Suresnes Cemetery, Paris), John Akerstrom's remains were returned to the US and re-interred in the Topeka Cemetery, Section 82, Lot 86, Interment #16532, on 14 Sept 1921
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