Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Thomas P. Lauppe isn’t from south central Oklahoma, nor does he have family in the area. But earlier this year, while visiting France, he was given a memento that belonged to a Carter County World War I veteran.

 


Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Thomas P. Lauppe isn’t from south central Oklahoma, nor does he have family in the area. But earlier this year, while visiting France, he was given a memento that belonged to a Carter County World War I veteran.

 

Now Lauppe is trying to find descendants of that veteran and present them with a 92-year-old piece of history that belongs in their family.

 

In an e-mail to The Ardmoreite, Lauppe said when he traveled to France in May, he was on a personal mission to gain insight into his own family.

 

“My maternal grandmother was a US Army Nurse Corps nurse based at U.S. Army Base Hospital #64 in Chaumont (Haute Marne) France in 1918 until early 1919. That is why I visited the site in person and was able to gain a great deal of understanding about the history and people from then and now,” he said.

 

“While meeting formally with the mayor and her staff, an archivist, an author, a translator and a number of local citizens, I gained a wealth of information.

 

“A visit to the hospital site as well as the location of the former American Cemetery were additional highlights of my visit. The mayor and her husband are the current owners of the land where the temporary 5,000 bed hospital was located.”

 

The French village mayor and her husband also gave Lauppe a number of World War I artifacts.

 

“Among the artifacts was a dog tag with the name “Hyram D. Rains,” he said.

 

With the mission to learn more about his grandmother complete, Lauppe could have simply returned to the U.S. and been content to keep Rains’ dog tags with the other artifacts he was given. But dog tags are a very personal item and the dog tags sent Lauppe on another mission — to find Rains’ descendants.

 

He began searching for more information about Rains, and on Veterans Day he hit Internet pay dirt.

 

“... I searched online for his name and found that the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Ardmore lists this person’s name on their ‘History – 5’ page as a WWI casualty from Carter County Oklahoma,” he said.

 

Lauppe’s e-mail to The Ardmoreite was to ask for help in finding Rains’ relatives.

 

“If I am able to locate the next-of-kin relative of Hyram D. Rains, I would be willing to share what I have learned about the hospital and return the dog tag to the Rains family. I would only ask to learn what they may know about their ancestor and the events surrounding his service and death during the ‘Great War,’” he said.

 

“Please feel free to share the facts in this e-mail with whomever you wish in order to attempt to locate relatives. I appreciate your help in providing me with guidance in trying to find out if there are any descendants of this soldier. I feel the dog tag should ultimately find its way home, even after 92 years.”

 

Relatives of Rains or anyone who knows the whereabouts of potential members of the family should contact The Ardmoreite for information on contacting Lauppe by calling Marsha Miller at (580) 221-6529.