LITTLE CURRENT—Charles Albert Golden served under General John (Black Jack) Pershing during the punitive expedition chasing Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa before the First World War and then joined the American Expeditionary Force into Europe for the War to End All Wars, serving in the US 1st Infantry Division (the fabled Big Red One) earning the Silver Star, one of the highest decorations for bravery for American servicemen. On Saturday, July 12, a plaque commemorating Mr. Golden’s service, and the Silver Star, was dedicated in a ceremony at the Little Current Anglican Cemetery.
Mr. Golden came home from the war suffering from what would now be recognized as posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) to run a tourism resort in Willisville. His nephew Wayne Golden of Massey described his uncle as being a withdrawn and bitter man who fought off the demons he brought back from the war, as many suffering from PSTD do, by retreating into alcohol.
Charlie Golden’s son Harold confirmed that his family members were unaware of Mr. Golden’s military decorations. “He never talked about it at all,” he said.
It took almost a century, but Mr. Golden’s status as a genuine war hero is now recognized thanks to the dogged efforts of his nephew Wayne, who coincidentally is also a US Army veteran and who served with the Big Red One in Vietnam. Mr. Golden began researching his uncle’s service several years ago, but he was hampered by a dearth of records due to a fire that destroyed many early US Army records. He finally discovered the details through the archives of the First Infantry Division—it was there that Mr. Golden discovered his uncle had been part of the force that conducted a punitive military incursion into Mexico chasing Pancho Villa. A medal commemorating that event now graces the decoration bar along with Charlie Golden’s Silver Star, his purple heart and campaign medals.
Following a short address from Mr. Golden, the playing of taps and other martial pieces on bagpipe and bugle, the recitation of the Prayer of Remembrance by comrade Roy Eaton and a short service by Reverend Sherry DeJonge of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Little Current, a folded American flag was presented to Harold Golden by veteranss service officer Mike Beaupre.
Wayne Golden presented Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 Little Current representative Roy Eaton with a set of Charlie Golden’s medals in a short presentation ceremony following the dedication of the plaque.
“Mike Beaupre and Richard Bennett were instrumental in helping me get uncle Charlie’s medals,” said Mr. Golden. “I can’t say enough good about those guys.”
Members of Mr. Golden’s immediate family, including his son Harold and wife Mary Lou, his grandson Kenny and granddaughter Lisa as well as his great granddaughter Chelsea were on hand for the event, as were many members of the Manitoulin community.
A number of American veterans are buried in the Anglican cemetery, including relatives of Jeff Marshall of Little Current, who found himself an impromptu flag bearer for the Stars and Stripes when bearer Mike Beaupre was called to speak at the dedication.