Spokane woman remembers grandfather’s service during WWI memorial dedication

A Veterans Day memorial dedication reminded hundreds of people of the honor and sacrifice that connects them.

Spokane woman remembers grandfather’s service during WWI memorial dedication

There is a new World War I memorial south of the Argonne Bridge, in Millwood. On it are the names of local heroes who lost their lives during World War I. Visitors can also read about the Battle of Argonne Forest.

That fight was part of the final allied offensive of World War I. It was among the deadliest times of the nation’s military history.

Records show that more than 26,000 Americans died during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. A Spokane-native was among the 95,000 wounded.

Kristine Walker said her grandfather, Alfred Hage, was injured during the Battle of Argonne Forest, in 1918. He had enlisted in the Washington National Guard at 26.

Hage’s parents received word of what happened months later. Walker still has photos from her grandfather’s service and the newspaper clipping that reported his injuries.

Walker held those mementos close during Monday’s World War I memorial dedication.

“I was really excited that they were putting up this memorial and I just wanted to come out here and honor my grandpa and let people know what he did,” Walker said.

Spokane woman remembers grandfather’s service during WWI memorial dedication

Walker explained that her grandfather eventually made it home from Spokane and went on to lead a successful life.

But, not all members of the armed forces were so lucky.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Dean Ladd understands the true cost of war. He said he is the oldest retired marine in the United States. At 99-years-old, he’s seen and sacrificed so much.

Ladd was also in the crowd Monday for the dedication.

“Wasn’t this incredible? This was just unbelievable,” Ladd said.

Ladd served 30 years in the military. He was only 18-years-old when he enlisted. One year later, he said he was fighting in World War II. During that service, he was shot.

On Veterans Day, Ladd reflected on how fortunate he was.

“God had other plans [for me,]” Ladd said.

Those plans included three daughters, 18 grandchildren, and 27 great-grandchildren. Ladd is now 99. Even at that age, he still showed his support for other veterans at the cold November ceremony Monday.

“Freedom is not free. Every generation has to fight to preserve it,” Ladd said.