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News of the Death of Richard Bechtel





Sgt. Richard Bechtel
First Husband of Esther Gettle Kindt

Lebanon Daily News front page of: 11 Sep 1918
SERGEANT RICHARD G. BECHTEL, BRAVE LEBANON BOY, GAVE UP LIFE ON FRENCH BATTLEFIELD

Killed Aug. 10 in battle to Drive Germans Back From the Marne; Same Day William Bollman Met His Fate; His Wife, Mrs. Esther Bechtel, and Mother, Mrs.Susan Bechtel, Reside at 606 Locust Street, and Are Prostated With Grief; Gallant Young Hero Was a Printer By Trade and also Served With Company H on the Mexican Border.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A fifth name, that of Sergeant Richard G. Bechtel, has been added to the list of Lebanon County's hero dead in the great war. He died bravely in action August 10th. in driving the Germans back from the Marne, being the second Lebanon boy to yield up his life in that now memorable feat. The other was Quartermaster Sergeant William H. Bollman, Jr., who was killed the same day. Both were members of Company D, 109th. Machine Gun Battalion, Keystone Division. Telegrams from the War Department, received Monday night, officially told of their death.
The message as to the death of Sergeant Bechtel, was received by his wife, Mrs. Esther Bechtel of 606 Locust Street, and was wholly unexpected, with the result that she and the mother of the dead soldier, Mrs. Susan Bechtel, widow of the late John Bechtel, of the same address, are today prostrated by the crushing news and are under the care of their family physician.
Corporal Paul Swope, mentioned the deaths of Sergeants Bollman and Bechtel, but it was thought that he had reference to the wounding of Charles Bechtel, another member of the Lebanon company. Although somewhat anxious by reason of this information the wife and mother were hopeful that their fears were without foundation in fact. However, the following telegram from the War Department disclosed their worst fears to be justified:


FROM: WAR DEPARTMENT.
TO: MRS. ESTHER BECHTEL
WE DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU
THAT SERGEANT RICHARD G. BECHTEL,
MACHINE GUN BATTALION, IS OFFICIALLY
REPORTED AS KILLED IN ACTION AUG. 10.
-HARRIS, ACTING ADJUTANT GENERAL-



A telegram, couched in similar language, was also received by William H. Bollman, Sr., proprietor of the William Penn Hotel, officially confirming the reported killing of his son, Sergeant Bollman, on August 10, in action.
Sergeant Bechtel was 22 years old and a printer by trade, having been employed at the Weigley printing establishment on Willow Street, near 8th., at the time of his leaving here with Co. H, Fourth Penna. Infantry, for Camp Hancock, Augusta, Georgia. Less than a month before Co. H received orders to assemble at the state armory, Sergeant Bechtel claimed as his bride, Miss Esther Gettle, daughter of Edwin Gettle of this city. His last letter home, bearing the date of July 29th., told of his continued good health and spirits.
As a member of Company H, Sergeant Bechtel had accompanied it on a tour of duty on the Mexican border, and his enlistment expired on January, but with war clouds looming, he was called upon as a reservist, and rejoined his old command. Bechtel was an amateur baseball player of no mean ability and was widely known, having many close friends. He was a member of 1st. Reformed Church, the Knights of the Mystic Chain, and the Perseverance Fire Co. In addition to his wife and mother he leaves a sister, Mrs. Ida Bross, of this city, who is caring for her stricken mother and sister-in-law in their deep bereavement, and the following brothers; Robert, who is a member of the base hospital corps, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas; Ralph and George Dewey Bechtel, both of this city.


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