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Randall G. Ketterman

Soldiers of the Great War

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Randall G. Ketterman
1895-1918

"All through the long night those big guns flashed and growled just like the lightning and the thunder when it storms in the mountains at home…. And it was wet and cold. And it all made me think of the Bible and the story of the Antichrist and Armageddon."

Alvin C. York

Army Corporal Randall G. Ketterman was born on February 16, 1895, at Davis in Tucker County, West Virginia. His father, Franklin Salem Ketterman, was a carpenter and contractor, and his mother was Florence Arbogast Ketterman. Randall had two brothers, Glenn and Otto, and three sisters, Okareda, Nellie, and Josie.

According to the National Archives, during World War I there were three draft registrations. The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. At the age of twenty-two, Randall registered for the draft at Elkins, West Virginia, on June 5, 1917. Like his father, he was a carpenter, and his World War I draft registration form notes he was employed by H. N. Hinkle in Boyer, West Virginia. He was unmarried and claimed no exemption from the draft. His enlistment record states that he was tall and slender and had blue eyes and dark hair. Randall’s two-year-older brother Glenn registered for the draft on the same day, stating that he too was single and claimed no exemptions. Glenn’s registration indicates he was a clerk at Elkins Mercantile Company.

When called into service on September 20, 1917, Randall was assigned to Battery D of the 313rd Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Lee, Virginia. On May 25, 1918, Randall’s division departed from Norfolk, Virginia, aboard the transport Loboney (according to a funeral notice for Pvt. Ketterman in the August 4, 1921, edition of the Randolph Enterprise). They landed in Bordeaux, France, on June 9.

The following diagram of the unit structure of the American Forces during World War I includes the group to which Randall Ketterman was assigned:

The 155th Field Artillery Brigade, which also served with the 90th Division during the war, was almost exclusively made up of men from West Virginia. (The fact that men from the same community were serving together is highlighted in a burial notice for Randall Ketterman in the

Randolph Review [August 4, 1921], which states: “He was carried to the rear by Dorsey Paugh and one of the Bell boys of Mill Creek….” The article goes on to mention a conversation Randall had with Leland Coberly, another Randolph County soldier, about his wounds.)

The 80th Division had seen action in the First Battle of the Somme from March 21 to April 5, 1918. It had also participated in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel from September 12 through September 15, 1918.

On September 26, 1918, the Meuse-Argonne offensive was begun by the Allied Expeditionary Forces in what was to become the greatest American battle of World War I. The objective of this campaign was to repel the Germans eastward from the Hindenburg Line to deny them access to important rail lines that were supplying the German front. Thirty-seven French and U.S. divisions were opposed by 24 German divisions. During the six weeks’ confrontation, 27,277 Americans were killed and 95,786 were wounded. By early October the German Army was exhausted, demoralized, and plagued with an influenza outbreak.

One of the areas of major resistance by German Forces was in the Bois de Cunel, the woods between Nantillois and Cunel, France. Located on the road to Cunel was a farm that the Germans had heavily fortified as a strongpoint in their defenses. On October 26, 1918, at the Ferme de la Madeleine, Randall G. Ketterman was wounded by a shell burst near the field gun squad of which he was in charge. His arm was shattered, and he died from those wounds the following day.

When the war was over, the family of Cpl. Ketterman requested the return of his body for burial in the United States. On Sunday, July 31, 1921, a funeral service was conducted at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Elkins. The pallbearers were from the 80th Division in which Randall had served. At the conclusion of the church service, a caisson, drawn by four black horses, carried his flag-draped casket to the cemetery. The funeral cortège was accompanied by a military escort made up of 80 former servicemen and an honor guard from the American Legion. During the procession a band from Coalton, West Virginia, played a funeral march. Cpl. Randall G. Ketterman was laid to rest with military honors in Maplewood Cemetery at Elkins, West Virginia..
grave marker

Grave marker for Randall Ketterman in Maplewood Cemetery. Photo used with permission

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout.
December 2014

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Randall Ketterman

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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