Dying a Hero’s Death – Lieut. Alfred Holt “Pat” Carrigan, Jr. – Wichita Falls, Texas

Pat Carrigan by Emil Hermann. (Courtesy photo)

By Jessica Crabtree

One hundred years ago this year, World War I came to an end, a war that had began July 28, 1914, and raged on until Nov. 11, 1918. It lasted a staggering total of 1,567 days, a war that was initiated by the death of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Austria/Hungary by a 19-year-old Slav Nationalist. Thereafter, the blame was placed on Serbia, who was given an ultimatum they rejected. Austria/Hungary declared war and forces encroached within hours. Europe went to war with two divided rival alliances. The sides chosen were Britain, France and Russia against Germany, Austria/Hungary and Italy.

A long, brutal, bloody battle played out well before the United States ever entered the war. Upon its uproar, President Woodrow Wilson wanted no part in Europe’s war, declaring neutrality. Keeping their stance, it wasn’t until May 7, 1915, when a British passenger ship, the Lusitania, sailing from New York to Liverpool was intersected and sunk by a German U-Boat, a submarine, off the coast of Ireland that killed 128 Americans aboard, did America become outraged. As a tactic used during the war, Britain held vigil on the North Sea, not allowing any foreign contraband to pass, including food for Germany. In retaliation of that, Germany introduced the U-boat, submarine attacks.

After another carrier vessel was sunk, killing three more Americans, Germany ceased attacks on passenger ships in an attempt to not provoke and incorporate the United States. What was meant to be a short and glorious battle by 1916 had become industrial warfare of horrendous proportions, with death tolls of the French, British, Russians, Germans and more, reaching into the millions.

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