Wednesday, December 23, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: December 23

December 23, 1918 – Sergeant Alger C. Walker, Air Service Mechanic school, with the chevrons on his sleeves still a shade less sun-darkened than the rest of his khaki uniform, was married this evening to Miss Frances Allen Fowle. Here is how it happened:

Late in Oct., when the influenza epidemic was raging all over the U. S., several students at the air school contracted the disease, and it soon spread to many others.

Sergeant Walker was among them.

An appeal was sent out by a worried Uncle Sam to his patriotic nieces and Miss Frances Allen Fowle responded to the call.

She was detailed—totally without nursing experience—at the air school. On the day she arrived, ready to do or die, Sergeant Walker, who used to punch cows somewhere in Texas, was on the sick list.

The army surgeon didn’t think Walker was very sick—a mild case of influenza—but when the sergeant saw Miss Fowle, he almost immediately became semi-conscious. And his last words were:

I don’t want to get well.
I don’t want to get well.
I’m in love with a beautiful nurse.

And for more than a month, he didn’t get well. In fact, he hovered between life and death so often that Miss Walker was forced to pay more attention to him than to the others. And when, about a month ago, he did get well, he just couldn’t be made to believe it.

About 75 guests attended the wedding, and a large part of them wore Uncle Sam’s khaki.

Many of those in khaki forgot to address the bridegroom as “Sergeant,” for the chevrons were conferred on him about the time he contracted the influenza.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Influenza Brings Romance to Life of Air Mechanic. Case Ends Fatally—er—That Is Sergeant and Nurse Are Married Now.”; Dec. 24, 1918; p. 1.


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