March 18 • 12:05 PM

Victory medal is home at last

Imlay City's Harry F. Hovey's medal is now at post that bears his name

September 16, 2009
IMLAY CITY — A World War I Victory Medal earned posthumously by Harry F. Hovey is now in the hands of veterans whose American Legion Post bears his name.

P.F.C. Hovey was an Imlay City resident when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in early 1917. Trained at Camp Custer, he was shipped overseas in early 1918, and was killed in action in the summer of 1919, while serving in France.

Imlay City American Legion Post 135 Commander Ted Collom and Historian Karl Iloncai formally accepted the medal on Tuesday, which will be placed in the post's archives.

Iloncai said the medal had previously been in the possession of the late Bob Churchill, an Imlay City American Legion member whose father, Howard Churchill, served as the first commander of Post 135.

Before his death last month, Churchill passed along the medal to Iloncai, with the intention that it be preserved for posterity.

Pvt. Hovey’s Victory Medal alludes to his participation in military campaigns in France.
Iloncai said Churchill found the medal in his father's belongings and had hoped to make the presentation himself.

"We're very happy to have this important artifact in our possession," said Iloncai, "and we're thankful to Bob for having given it to us. "We're always looking for more information or artifacts from the various wars to add to our archives."

The World War I Victory Medal was awarded to any member of the U.S. Military who had served between April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918.

Hovey's medal mentioned his specific participation with the 85th Division in battles at St. Mihiel (Sept. 12-16, 1918) and Meuse-Argonne (Sept. 26-Nov. 11, 1918).

Collom noted that P.F.C. Hovey had been listed as missing in action for some time before the circumstances of his death became available.

Post 135 achives reveal that Hovey's heroic death was described by Floyd Kates, a wounded soldier who witnessed the event before being taken prisoner by the Germans.

According to the archives, Hovey's outfit was on night patrol in 'no man's land' and was caught behind enemy lines in the daylight. Having to lay low until darkness arrived, they were discovered by German snipers who engaged them, resulting in Kates being shot in the knee.

Along with two other soldiers from their detail, P.F.C. Hovey was attempting to return Kates to safety, when a German air fighter spotted and strafed them on the ground, killing Hovey instantly.

After the conclusion of the war, Hovey's body was returned to the United States and buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.

Private Hovey's history

Harry F. Hovey was born in 1894 in Oxford, Michigan and attended public school at Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

At an early age, his family moved to Imlay City and lived on North Almont Avenue.

Before joining the U.S. Army, he was employed as a linotype operator at the old Imlay City Times, which was owned by his father, Howard Hovey.

His next of kin are reportedly all deceased. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery in a grave marked: AS2046365, CO A OR.31, Section 89 PL1, Cemetery 1232.

New members sought

Iloncai said Post 135 has a current roster of about 75 veterans and welcomes new members.

Meetings are held the second and last Wednesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the post home, located on South Third Street downtown.

For more information about American Legion Post 135, talk to any member or contact Adjutant Jerry Stryker at 724-6034.

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