By Rick Palsgrove
When the call for soldiers came in 1917 during World War I, 15-year-old Robert Lincoln Dutro left behind his school books at Groveport Madison High School and joined the U.S. Marines.
At age 15, Dutro was too young to enlist, but he was tall and wiry and somehow he convinced the Marines to let him join, according to Rick Compton, adjutant and past commander of Robert Dutro Post 486, American Legion, Groveport.
“He came from a military family,” said Compton. “His brother, John, was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Robert wanted to serve, too. Maybe it was for the adventure. He, and other young men like him, didn’t know what war was, but they wanted to do their part.”
Post 486 is named for Robert Dutro, who joined the 6th Marine Regiment and would later die in France on July 19, 1918 during the Aisne-Marne Offensive, also known as the Second Battle of the Marne, in World War I.
“The day he died, July 19, 1918, is considered the costliest day in history for the 6th Marine Regiment,” said Compton. “And this is a regiment that was at Guadalcanal, Tarana, and Saipan-Tinian during World War II.”
Compton said from July 17-19, 1918, 1,431 Marines lost their lives in the Aisne-Marne Offensive.
“On July 19, the Marines did not get a lot of artillery support,” said Compton. “They had to cross a level, barren, open field with not much cover, except for a wheat field. The Germans unleashed intense machine gun fire and artillery, which penned the Marines down about halfway across the field in ‘no man’s land.’ It must have been a living hell. Some units lost 50 to 70 percent of their men that day. Of one unit of 400, only 12 survived.”
Compton said the specifics of how Dutro was killed in the battle are not known.
“It says a lot about Robert that, at age 15, he joined and fought,” said Compton.
Dutro is buried in Union Grove Cemetery in Columbus. He would have graduated from Groveport Madison High School in 1920 and his class remembered him by dedicating the 1920 school yearbook, “The Flashlight,” to him with the words, “Robert L. Dutro, Class of 1920, Who gave his life for his country in the Second Battle of the Marne, July 19, 1918.”
Robert Dutro Post 486 is named for Robert at the suggestion of his brother, John, who was a charter member of the Post. The Post was established in 1921 with 20 members. The membership rose to 50 by 1939, but in the ensuing years membership fell and the Post became less active.
But in 2015, Compton said four members got the Post rolling again and membership is now up to 60.
“For a small town Post without a permanent home we’re doing really well,” said Compton.
He said the Post includes Sons of the American Legion and the Legion Riders, a motorcycle group. He said there are also plans to start a women’s auxiliary.
“We’re about service to the community and service to veterans,” said Compton, who added the Post is thankful to the city of Groveport for its support.
Robert Dutro Post 486 American Legion meets the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. on the third floor of Groveport Town Hall, 648 Front St. in Groveport. Follow the Post on Facebook @ groveportamericanlegion. For information about the American Legion and Robert Dutro Post 486, contact Rick Compton at (614) 208-6963.
Remembering the fallen
Memorial Day is a time of remembrance for our fallen veterans.
The veterans of Robert Dutro Post 486, American Legion, Groveport, announced the Memorial Day ceremonies for Hamilton and Madison townships and the parade and ceremony in Groveport.
All ceremonies will be held on May 29. The Post, along with local Boy Scout Troops, will mark veterans’ graves and conduct ceremonies at the following locations:
•9 a.m. – Asbury Cemetery, 4760 Winchester Pike, Madison Township. Parking available at the Fellowship Baptist Church located next door.
•10:30 a.m. – Fernwood Cemetery, 460 Rowe Road, Lockbourne. Parking available at the cemetery.
•Groveport Parade and Groveport Cemetery Ceremony. Parade staging begins at 12:30 p.m. on Front Street beside Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. The parade begins at 1:15 p.m. and the ceremony in the Groveport Cemetery begins at approximately 1:30 p.m. The parade starts near Groveport Town Hall and will proceed west down Main Street and then south on College Street to Groveport Cemetery.
According to Rick Compton of Robert Dutro Post 486, American Legion, the Post’s goal is to recognize as many veterans as possible. He said the Post encourages all veterans and their families to join in the parade.
For older or mobile restricted veterans, there will be military vehicles available to ride in courtesy of Motts Military Museum.
The guest speaker at the Groveport Cemetery ceremony is Warren Motts, director of Motts Military Museum. Motts is a veteran and a longtime supporter of veterans and history in the community. Music will be provided by the Groveport Madison High School Marching Cruisers. Parking is available in the community parking lots as well as the elementary and middle school.
Following the ceremony an open house with refreshments will be held at Motts Military Museum, 5075 S. Hamilton Road, Groveport.
For information regarding Memorial Day or about the American Legion and the Post, contact Rick Compton at (614) 208-6963.