telegram from the Brooklyn naval authorities dated March 30, 1922
notified Peter Lemos of Kerrville,
Texas that the body of his brother Francisco had arrived on American
soil and was at last on his way home.
Francisco "Pancho" Lemos, the son of immigrant parents, worked
as a farm and ranch laborer for the Schreiner Sheep and Cattle Company
in Kerr County. Other
details of his life are lost in translation from a language and culture
outside the mainstream of 20th Century America.
And yet Francisco Lemos was front and center when the United States
Army called for volunteers in 1917. He joined other recruits from
Kerr County and across
the state to form the the 141st Infantry Regiment known as the First
September 5, 1917 the train pulled out of the station on Schreiner
Street carrying 103 Kerr
County men to basic training. It rained the morning they left.
"Mother's hearts were torn," Rev. S. W. Kemerer wrote. "Father's hearts
were too full for words. . . God also wept in the tender rain that
The First Texas Infantry trained at Camp Bowie near Brownwood
and at Fort Worth.
On July 26, 1918 the men boarded a transport ship in New York. They
landed in France on August 6.
The soldiers moved quickly into action. The First Texas Infantry took
up a position near St. Mihiel -125 miles east of Paris on the German
For the next 3 months the men ate, slept, fought and died in a muddy
hell. A continuous artillery bombardment had smashed to smithereens
all signs of life as far as the eye could see. Not a blade of grass
survived the shelling and the poison gas canisters. French farmers
who had lived on this land their entire lives no longer recognized
the cratered landscape.
Then on September 12, 1918 General John J. Pershing ordered an attack
on the German lines at St.Mihiel. It was the only offensive launched
solely by the American Army in World
Three days into the battle a scouting party crawled out of a sloppy
trench along the American sector. Somewhere in no-man's land an artillery
shell exploded in the middle of the scouting party. Pvt. Francisco
Lemos died instantly. The same explosion wounded his friend from Kerrville,
Pvt. Emmitt Rodriquez.
The United States Army buried Pvt. Lemos near Chambley, France.
Less than a month later Kerrville
cautiously celebrated the end of the Great War. The hog-wild celebration
would come later when the Kerr
County boys came home.
in late November the Lemos family got the dreaded news.
Father Henry Kemper, priest of Notre Dame Church, helped the grieving
family raise money and cut through the red tape to have their son
In April 1922 the body of Pvt. Francisco Lemos arrived at the train
station in Kerrville.
The Knights of Columbus escorted the war hero to Wards Undertaking
On April 20, 1922 the body rested at Guadalupe Church. Family and
friends held an all-night prayer vigil. The funeral was the next day,
April 21 - San Jacinto Day.
On the way to the cemetery the funeral procession slowly navigated
Francisco Lemos Street, Earl Garrett Street and Sidney Baker Street,
paying tribute to 3 Kerrville men who died in World
| WWI hero Francisco
Barr, May 2018
Pvt. Francisco Lemos was finally laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery
on the Fredericksburg Road. He was the first Kerr
County soldier to die in World
War I, and the last American soldier killed in Europe to be
Emmitt Rodriquez survived the war. In 1921 he became the pastor
of Calvary Baptist Church. He led the congregation for the next
Francisco Lemos and Emmitt Rodriquez laid a course for many American
war heroes whose roots lie south of the border. American ideals
are not bound by geography.
Pvt. Pedro Cano, Sgt. Marcario Garza and Master Sgt. Jose Lopez
were all Texans and Medal of Honor winners in World
None was born in the United States.
| © Michael
May 29, 2018 Column
"Calvary Baptist history long, fascinating," Kerrville Daily Times,
May 19, 1995.-
"The Hill Country Memorial and Celebration of Those Who Serve," Kerrville
Daily Times, May 25, 2005.
"Grave of Last American Killed in World War I Gets Marker," Kerrville
Daily Times, October 17, 2014.