WHEREAS, on behalf of the citizens of the City of Williamsburg, I, Paul T. Freiling, Mayor of the City of W illiamsburg , Virginia, am honored to proclaim April 10, 2018 as Carl Willig Day in this, the 100th anniversary year of the end of WW I; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Willig, a first-generation American at the tender age of 18, with a youthful appearance that belied his inner strength and toughness, volunteered for combat in WW I with the U.S. Army and served as a doughboy in company H, 60th Regiment, 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division; and
WHEREAS Mr. Willig served with distinction, earning the admiration of his fellow soldiers and the respect of his commanding officers, was wounded in combat in August of 1918, and tragically lost his life in the woods near St. Mihiel, France, on September 16, 1918; and
WHEREAS, th e hostilit ies of W orld War I were effectively concluded by the signing of the Armistice less than two months later on November 11, 1918, with more than 100,000 Americans killed in action in just over a year; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Willig was lost to his family for 90 years after his death and was one of more than 82,000 American soldiers missing as a result of prior conflicts; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Willig was eventually found by chance, safeguarded by the indefatigable efforts of the French group, Thanks Gls, carefully identified by the dedicated team at JPAC, and brought home with dignity and honor by the U.S. Army, an organization committed to leave no soldier behind; and
WHEREAS , Mr. Willig’s story, Carl’s Story, has been artfully preserved for posterity through a literary labor of love by his closest surviving relative, his niece Noretta Willig, so that future generations may better appreciate the true cost of war.
NOW, THEREFORE, with deep respect for his service to his country and in honor of his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice, I, Paul T. Freiling, Mayor of the City of Williamsburg, do hereby proclaim the Tenth day of April in the year of Two Thousand and Eighteen as:
CARL WILLIG DAY
in the City of Williamsburg Virginia.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Williamsburg, Virginia, to be affixed, this Tenth day of April, Two Thousand and Eighteen.
Carl’s Story begins in the woods near St. Mihiel, France, almost a century ago on September 16, 1918. On that victorious day, when the US Army won its first battle in Europe and the war was just days from ending, Carl Willig, a doughboy in company H and the uncle of author, Noretta Willig, was killed.
An eye-witness wrote Carl’s parents that “he suffered no pain, my dear friends. Death was instantaneous.” But Carl was lost. His remains could not be found. For three generations, his family felt the grief of that loss.
Then, ninety years after Carl’s death, Noretta’s phone rang and a genealogist identified Noretta as Carl’s next of kin. Why? Because “probably they found something.” Searching a trunk filled with faded photographs and letters, Noretta met Carl across the years and learned what a powerful man young Carl was.
Carl’s Story is about the almost forgotten heroes, those who must be remembered. It is an American story–of family and duty, discovery and honor–about treasures lost then found.
Noretta Willig, after graduation from Ohio University, began her career in journalism as an editor for PPG Industries magazines. Later, she chose to teach, obtaining a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. For 33 years, she taught American and English literature in a suburban Pittsburgh high school. In retirement, she traveled throughout the 50 states and to many foreign countries, including the battlefields of France.