Frank Gregory Charlton was my grandfather.
He graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in Auburn in 1915.


Grandaddy enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1917.
For the next six months he traveled around the southern and eastern United States.
He was assigned to the 23d Engineers.
Then he left for France.
He inscribed his itinerary into the lid of his mess kit.


For the last five weeks of the war, he participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
Some historians describe it as the bloodiest battle in U.S. History.
He later assured my grandmother that he was not involved in combat.
Luckily for him, my grandmother did not have access to the internet.


On November 3, 2018 some family members, including two of my grandchildren,
retraced Grandaddy's route through those five weeks.
That put us in Champigneulle a hundred years after Grandaddy was there.


The sequence was:
November 2, 1918 - The U.S. 307th Light Artillery leveled the town.
November 3, 1918 - The U.S. 23d Engineers rebuilt some roads around town for the infantry.
November 4, 1918 - The U.S. 66th Infantry arrived.
November 3, 2018 - Greg's descendants visited.



The lid to the mess kit has been handed down twice now, eldest son to eldest son.
I have put it in a frame that is lined with a piece of old army blanket.
It hangs on the wall above me as I type this.