New York Veteran Still Going Strong
He soldiered with Joyce Kilmer and boxed on Father Duffy’s team in the “Fighting 69th” in the “First” World War, he’s over age for the army and retired on pension from his civilian occupation, yet Staff Sergeant Andrew G. Hogstrom, 46, of Long Island City, New York, is still going strong as fire chief at a United, States Army base section headquarters in England.
Andy Hogstrom did not realize back in 1917-18 that the quiet, unassuming Sergeant Kilmer, of headquarters company of the 69th Infantry Regiment, so soon to die in the mud at Chateau Thierry, would achieve world-wide fame as a poet and especially as author of the classic “Trees.”
Nor could he have looked into the future to another World War when the War Department would honor the soldier-poet by giving his name to one of its largest embarkation areas at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.
“He was just another guy, a swell fellow,” said Sgt. Hogstrom. “Many times he gave me his poems to read. Once, in the Champagne sector, when I liked one particularly well, he told me to keep it. I lost it in Germany.”
Needless to state, he wishes he had been more careful to preserve a manuscript poem of the now-famed Joyce Kilmer.
Hogstrom was just a few feet from the poet when he was killed.
“We lost a lot of good guys that day at Chateau Thierry,” said the veteran.
Father Duffy was divisional chaplain with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and everyone went to him with his problems.
“He knew no creed and he took our troubles on his back,” said Hogstrom. “The chaplain was also special service officer in those days and Father Duffy said I was one of his gang because I was on his boxing team.”
Hogstrom also became friendly with Sergeant Hank Gowdy, first big league ball player to join the army. Hank was color sergeant of the 166th Infantry, composed of Ohio troops, and part of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division with the 69th. Two majors in Hogstrom’s regiment were William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan. later colonel and assistant Attorney General of the United States, and Alexander Anderson, later Major-General. The divisional commander was a young brigadier-general, Douglas McArthur.
Wounded on the right arm by shrapnel at Chateau Thierry, Hogstrom was again hit by shrapnel, this time on the right ankle, at the Argonne and captured. He was taken as a prisoner with the retreating Germans, but after a month escaped, returning to the American lines two days before the armistice. He was decorated by the French Government for this feat.
After 19 months in France and Germany, he was discharged in May, 1919. He re-enlisted in 1923 and did a threeyear hitch with the tanks. Andy volunteered in January, 1942, and got back his old serial number, 89646, which is low these days when the numbers run up into eight digits. When the army was discharging soldiers over 38 years old he elected to stay for the duration.
Former N. Y. Fireman
Sgt. Hogstrom retired as a fireman from the New York Fire Department after twenty years service. His brother, Lieutenant Peter Hogstrom, U. S. Navy, is also retired from that organization, having served as chief engineer of the fire boat “New Yorker.” Another brother, Harold Hogstrom, is a New York policeman.