As we near Memorial Day I think of America’s overseas military cemeteries. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) administers, operates and maintains 26 permanent American military cemeteries and 32 federal memorials. A native Iowan is the Superintendent of one of them.
Hubert Caloud a native of Clutier, Iowa served in the Marine Corps for over thirty years retiring as a Sergeant Major. Caloud has been working for ABMC since his retirement from the USMC in 2004. He has been assigned as the Assistant Superintendent of the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium and the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. He has also been assigned as the Superintendent of Flanders Field American Cemetery in Belgium and the Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne American Cemeteries in France.
His current assignment Oise-Aisne cemetery in the Department of Aisne is close to his heart as his Great-Uncle William Kucera from Elberon, Iowa fought next to the cemetery in the 168th Infantry, 42nd (Rainbow) Division in 1918. Kucera’s Company Commander was Captain Edward Fleur whom Fleur Drive in Des Moines is named after. His Uncle Arnold Vileta from Tama, Iowa built several temporary bridges close to the cemetery on the Marne River as a Combat Engineer in General Patton’s 3rd Army in 1944.
Although he was in different wars than WWI and WWII, Hubert is the third generation of his family to represent America in this part of France a fact that he says isn’t lost on the locals he interacts with.
“It means something to people when I say that my family fought to liberate this ground. More passions or a calling than jobs Caloud has served the American Government since he was a teenager almost 50 years ago.
At the grave of his great uncle’s friend, Omar Shearer, who was killed in Sergy, just over the ridge from here. Shearer was the first Guthrie Center, Iowa soldier killed during WWI. The American Legion there is named after him. Caloud is standing at Shearer’s Grave in a film he was asked to make about the cemetery.