Under all kinds of monuments, all around the world lay all kinds of hero’s. Under one such marker lies a local hero, at the City Cemetery in Bloomer, Wisconsin. He was a young man — Martin A. Treptow — who volunteered for a mission which ended with him paying the ultimate price by being killed in action
In 1917, at the start of World War I, at the age of 23, he left his job as a barber in a small shop to join the Army and was assigned to the Rainbow Division which was committed to battle against the Germans in France during the War.
In the heat of a battle at that western front on that 28th day of July in 1918, a messenger was needed to deliver an important message to one of its platoons. In spite of heavy machine gun fire and artillery bombardment from the enemy, Private Martin Treptow, a barber turned Warrior, then 24 years of age, volunteered and grabbed the message and ran out under fire.
As he was nearing the platoon leader, Treptow was shot down by a hail of bullets. Later, in gathering up his personal effects, a diary was found in the blood stained shirt of this doughboy Warrior. Written in Treptow’s own handwriting were the entitled words of “My Pledge” that served as a memorial to the ultimate price he paid. On a flyleaf at the beginning of his diary he had written these words:
MY PLEDGE: “American must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”
President Ronald Reagan recited this pledge and made mention of Martin Treptow’s heroics during his first inaugural address as did President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After Treptow’s body was shipped back to Bloomer, the soldier’s pledge received widespread publicity and copies of it were used by the Armed Forces in patriotic posters all over the country. Treptow’s nephew, Lyle Gehring of Roseville, Calif., remembers seeing the words 25 years later in a framed poster at the Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri training camp during his World War II service. Another poster of the pledge is part of a collection in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
“It was reported that the diary was quite blood stained when it was found in his uniform pocket.” The original leather bound diary was shipped back to Bloomer to his parents, Anna and Albert Treptow. Some years later it was given to Martin Treptow’s niece, Doris Roberts of Freeport, Ill.
In 1926 when the Bloomer American Legion was chartered, his name was unanimously selected to be their Namesake and this organization is still known as the Martin A. Treptow Post No. 295 and currently has over 200 members.
Even with it being over 85 years old, it is still bustling with activity and surely Martin Treptow would be very proud of the fact that it is still providing military funeral rites for the veterans and are sponsors of so many activities such as sending students for a week to Badger Boys State Camp, sponsoring the Boy Scouts and Legion Youth Baseball to name a few. The Legion also purchases all the flags adorning the streets of Bloomer and provides college scholarships. The sending of care packages to local troops stationed around the world is also an ongoing project.
So more people may be made aware that the Bloomer American Legion is his Namesake, a special plaque has been created and permanently placed on his burial monument indicating this and what this special warrior meant to not only those who have or will serve in the military, but to all the people of the Bloomer area as well. His burial site is located near the southeast side of the Bloomer City Cemetery.
Francis Yohnk is the Liaison Officer of the Bloomer American Legion.