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Gallup Sun

Saturday, Mar 23rd

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World War I veteran honored at site of notorious battle

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As I have shared with you and your readers in the past, my grandfather, Pvt. Paul Emerson Riege, served in the 1st Battalion/5th Marines during WW1.

This unit has gone on to become one of the most decorated units in Marine Corps History, and it was the Marines of the 1/5 of WW1 who earned the nickname that the Marines enjoy to this day and that’s “Devil Dogs.”

I am always so proud of the fact that my grandfather was one of those original “Devil Dogs” and that he fought at the Battle of Belleau Wood. It is a “Bucket List” dream of mine to travel to the Belleau Wood battlefield and to walk in the same footsteps as my grandfather and all those many brave Marines did.

A few weeks ago I was presented with a huge honor. I have been in communications with the American Battle Monuments Commission and have sent them information about my grandfather. They were very touched by what I had sent them that they decided to honor my grandfather in what is the greatest way to honor a veteran. They flew a flag in his honor. This flag was not just flown anywhere either, it was flown at the Belleau Wood Battle Memorial in France.

While this is an amazing story in itself, it continues. Last week I received that very flag that had flown in honor of my grandfather along with a certificate stating the date it was flown. WOW, I just sat in my office as I opened the package and read the certificate. I wasn’t sure what to do I was so humbled and awestruck that they would do this for him and for my family.

Well, I immediately put together a beautiful memorial display of a picture of the flag flying over the memorial along with the certificate and of course, the flag. This is on display in our amazing museum at the Comfort Suites in Gallup and available for all to see this one-of-a-kind historical American flag.

By Ken Riege
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