Impatient to serve his country

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter to all.

We’ve all been hearing a great deal about World War I lately as the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering the fight has just past. April 6, 1917, was actually Good Friday that year so I imagine this holy day held extra significance for many as they struggled to accept an unknown future.

At our recent History Happy Hour, Dean Ulland shared stories of Mower County’s involvement in the war with over 80 guests. He spoke of the draft and how local soldiers felt and reacted. He also explained how volunteer activities impacted local and overseas efforts.

Jay C. Hormel. Photo provided

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You might know that Jay C. Hormel was eager to serve in WWI. Because George found Jay to be indispensable to the Hormel Company business, he hoped his son wouldn’t join, but Jay was insistent. Because of the military training he had received while at Shattuck, Jay was eligible to participate in Reserve Officers School at Princeton. His father reluctantly agreed that it would be unfair to keep Jay from serving his country with the rest of his generation.

Jay’s draft number was called, and although he was told to await orders, he was impatient. Before officially being summoned he reported to duty at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and was sworn into service on Sept. 5, 1917, at the rank of private in the 351st Infantry, 88th Division, Company G. Jay’s persistence earned him the distinction of being the first to enlist in the 351st and the first Minnesotan to report for duty at the camp.

Jay was rapidly advanced in rank and was made 2nd Lieutenant within the first six weeks of enlistment. He was assigned to the Ice Plant Co. No. 301 and departed from Hoboken, New Jersey, for France on Jan. 13, 1918. He remained in France until September when he returned to Washington, D.C. as a 1st Lieutenant in the Quartermaster General Corps. At the close of the war, Jay returned home to Austin with more knowledge, experience and enthusiasm and with the beginning of a relationship with Germaine Dubois who would become his wife four years later.

Alison Hormel has recently loaned her grandfather Jay’s Army jacket for display at the Hormel Historic Home. What an honor it is to be able to share the uniform of one of Minnesota’s proud and patriotic servicemen.

Jay’s updated bedroom exhibits will be completed in the coming days, so we hope you will stop by to learn more about the man who grew up in this home. Members of the Hormel Historic Home tour for free. Non-members are $5 per person, and children are admitted for free.

On another note: Alison Hormel will be a special guest at the upcoming Stepping Out for Autism Walk. The mother of two adult children on the Autism Spectrum and the founder of the Virginia Institute of Autism, Alison has a great deal of wisdom and experience to share with our emerging Autism Friendly community.

Hearth & Home

10 a.m., Tuesday

“Flood Walls in a Former Swampland,” presented by Tim Ruzek. Free

6th Annual Stepping Out For Autism Walk

1 to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, April 23

Register online at