PVT Thebo Marcoe
The story of a WW1 Montana Purple Heart
For us, a Veteran’s story doesn’t begin and end with his medal. We love hearing about their daily lives, and learning who they were as men - and we love hearing their family’s excitement as they describe what it is like to feel connected again, and what it means to honor their Veteran’s memory.
We were so fortunate to connect with the family of PVT Thebo Marcoe to return his WW1 Lady of Columbia certificate and Purple Heart, and play a role in their devotion to his memory.
PVT Thebo Marcoe was serving with Company B, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Brigade, 28th Division in the Meuse-Argonne battle when he was wounded. He was one of 4,162 total Division casualties in the 23 days of heavy combat from the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, where 808 were killed, 294 died from wounds, and 3,060 were wounded.
PVT Marcoe (2nd from right in the photo above) was the youngest of Frank and Hattie Marcoe's children, and grew up on the family homestead on the shore of what is still called Marco Bay (though somewhere along the way, the original ‘E’ was dropped off the end) in Montana.
Aside from serving in France during WW1, he spent his whole life on the homestead, and worked at the Somers Mill.
He was a photographer and took breathtaking photographs of the mill and Flathead Lake.
He never married, but was very devoted to his mother and cared for her when his father passed away.
PVT Marco passed after a brief illness at the young age of 42.
His great-great niece Sonja told us it was as though PVT Marcoe ‘seemed to have called out’ to her and her mother. She shared that it was through discovering his photographs that her mother’s interest in genealogy was sparked, which set her off on a further quest: to hit the road in Montana, and try to locate the family Bible. Sonja told us that through sheer faith and determination, her mother found the Bible, and with it Thebo's war payment book and a handkerchief that he had purchased for his mother.
Then, we called with news of his WW1 Certificate and Purple Heart.
Then, the current owners of the homestead reached out because they had been metal detecting and found PVT Marcoe’s dogtag in the orchard on the property!
Consequently, Sonja and her mother returned to Montana and the homestead, and brought his framed Purple Heart with them. They were thrilled to find that the closets are still lined with old newspapers that were addressed to Thebo.
In this story of PVT Thebo Marcoe and his great nieces, we feel privileged to see his world through his eyes and his photographs, and share the joy with his family who have so painstakingly endeavored to ensure that he is remembered, honored - and that his memory is treasured.
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