Louis A. Barkus: World War I

Louis completed a World War I registration card on 5 June 1917. At that time, it was recorded that he worked at Landis' Hardware store and was responsible for partial support for his mother and sister Faye. Interestingly, the name of the registrar who signed his registration card was L. A. Talbott, who was married to Bertha Maude Bushnell, the sister of the woman who would later became his wife.

Louis enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at Parris Island, South Carolina, on 12 June 1918 at the age of 28. At the time of his enlistment, his papers listed his eyes as grey, hair as black, complexion as ruddy, height as 6 7 1/2 inches, and occupation as "Hardware Man". He embarked 8 July 1918 on the USS Hancock at Charlgston, South Carolina, and arrived at Guantanamo, Cuba, seven days later. He left Guantanamo on 17 September 1918 aboard the USS Sterling which took him to New York on 24 September 1918. He left from Hoboken, New Jersey, on 15 October 1918 aboard the USS Von Stueben, arriving at Brest, France, on 25 October 1918.

Louis became a private first class on 15 December 1918 and a corporal on 1 April 1919. While in France he served with the 11th Regiment, U. S. Marines, participating in trench warfare typical of the time, sometimes standing in hip-deep water. Fortunately, he did not receive any wounds in the war and did receive a Good Conduct Medal. The semi-official history of the 11th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Marines reported that the regiment did not arrive near the front at Tours, France, until 2 November 1918, just 9 days before the armistice ending World War I was signed. Actually, the regiment did not see combat in France, and its personnel were assigned administrative duties in several communities in France.

While in France, Louis did travel to Paris, bringing back a picture of the Eiffel Tower as evidence of his visit. He wrote on the back of one the pictures of him and another uniformed soldier, "In sunny France. Coming back to God's country before long."

Louis arrived back at Newport News on 6 August 1919 aboard the USS Orizaba.

Louis A Barkus, USMC France, 1918

Louis A Barkus, USMC
France, 1918

Louis A Barkus USMC camp France, 1918

Louis A Barkus USMC camp
France, 1918

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Francis Photo by Louis A Barkus

Eiffel Tower, Paris, Francis
Photo by Louis A Barkus

Louis was discharged from service with the rank of corporal on 11 August 1919 while stationed at the Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia. He was given $235.51 at the time of his discharge which apparently covered mileage (1440) and other travel expenses during travel to Omaha, Nebraska. His parents may well have been pleased that his sobriety was characterized as "Excellent" at the time of his discharge from the Marine Corps.

After discharge, Louis returned to his job at hardware store as documented in the 1920 US Federal Census. He worked at the store for about 15 years altogether. He probably also resumed his role with the Malvern Volunteer Fire Department as he was elected Captain of the unit. He remained involved with the fire department even after he was no longer able to be an active member.

Malvern Volunteer Fire Truck, undated photo Louis A Barkus in driver's seat

Malvern Volunteer Fire Truck, undated photo
Louis A Barkus in driver's seat

1920 US Federal Census, Malvern, Mills Co., Iowa
Last name:    First name:    Age: Relation:    Born:          Occupation:
Barkus Ella A Head/Wid. 57 IA None
Lew A Son 30 IA Salesman: Hardware
Kenneth C. Son 26 IA Operator: Telegraph
Harry L. Son 21 IA Salesman: Clothing Store
George W. Son 18 IA Printer: Newspaper Office
Faye N. Daughter 16 IA None