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"Hindsights" by Michael Barr

Looking back at
Louis Jordan
- American Hero

Michael Barr
Heroes rarely think of themselves. I like to think that Lt. Louis Jordan's last thought, as he stood in a stinking muddy trench in Northern France in 1918, was of his home and family in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

Louis John Jordan was born in Gillespie County on January 30, 1890. His maternal great-grandfather was the first pastor of the Vereins Kirche.

Jordan attended school in Fredericksburg. In his spare time he worked on the family ranch at Live Oak and at Stein Lumber Company in Fredericksburg.

In 1910 Jordan enrolled in San Antonio Academy, a private military school. He graduated in 1911. With good grades and excellent marks in citizenship he earned a scholarship to the University of Texas.

Louis Jordan was tall and stout with blue eyes and blond hair. He was a humble man with a quiet charisma. He drew others to him and made them better by being in his presence. He brightened the room just by walking into it. No one had a bad thing to say about Louis Jordan.

He was an honor student in the UT school of engineering. He lettered 4 years as a guard on the Longhorn football team, and he threw the hammer for the track team. His classmates called him "The Big Swede," but he was as German as sauerkraut.

The football team elected him captain in 1914. That year the Longhorns had one of the best teams in the country. They finished the season 8-0. They scored 271 points and gave up just 3 touchdowns: one to Oklahoma, one to Ole Miss and one to Haskell Indian Nation College in Lawrence, Kansas.

After the 1914 football season, Walter Camp listed Louis Jordan on Camp's All-American team. Jordan was the first longhorn and the first player from south of the Mason-Dixon Line to make the cut.

The selection was quite an accomplishment. Walter Camp was notorious for naming only Ivy Leaguers to his All-American squad.

Louis Jordan graduated from the University of Texas in 1915 with a degree in electrical engineering. He taught science one year at San Antonio Academy; then accepted a position at the San Antonio Public Service Company. He kept the electric streetcars running and on time.
 American Football
Lieutenant Louis Jordan
Wikipedia
When the United States entered World War I, Louis Jordan was an early volunteer. He trained at Leon Springs outside San Antonio. In August 1917 he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

He deployed to France on October 4, 1917. On New Year's Day the army assigned Jordan to the famous Rainbow Division and sent him to the German front.

On March 2, 1918 Jordan wrote in his diary what were probably his last written words: "The fighting we are doing now is the real thing. A man gets to be quite a fatalist in this game. If somehow or other they get me - all well and good. If not - still better. But somehow I feel safe."

Three days later Jordan was in front of his gun position when the German artillery barrage began. He ordered his men into the dugout and followed them inside. Just as he stepped in, an artillery shell exploded in the opening.

Lt. Louis Jordan died instantly - the first officer from Texas to die in World War I.

On March 7, 1918 the Army buried him with full military honors at the American Cemetery in Benemenil, France. The French government awarded Jordan the Croix de Guerre. Both houses of the Texas legislature passed resolutions in his honor.

As soon as the news of Jordan's death reached Gillespie County, family and friends began the process to bring him home.
Louis Jordan Tombstone    in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg, TX
Louis Jordan Tombstone in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg
Photo courtesy Michael Barr, January 2018
His flag-draped coffin arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on May 21, 1921.On June 9, his body lay in state at the Gillespie County Courthouse. Thousand paid their silent respects. On June 11, 1921 Louis Jordan was reinterred at his mother's feet in Der Stadt Friedhof in Fredericksburg.

His 1914 letterman's sweater and shrapnel-pierced diary are on display in Belmont Hall, beneath the stands at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.
Michael Barr
"Hindsights"
February 1, 2018 Column

Sources:
"Dedication of Flag Pole," Fredericksburg Standard, November 29, 1924.
"Will Bury Body of First Texas Officer Killed," San Antonio Light, June 9, 1921.
The Alcalde, "The First Longhorn Star," September/October, 2001, p.100.

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    "Hindsights" by Michael Barr

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