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Thursday marks 100 years since the death of Brown County's first causality in WWI

This November will mark 100 years since the end of World War I, which was a period when Americans came together in a shared sacrifice to root out evil overseas.

However, some people paid the ultimate sacrifice, like Isham A. Smith of Zephyr, who was one of the 117,000 Americans who died during World War I and was also the first service member from Brown County to perish in World War I.

There were 39 Brown County residents that were killed while fighting in World War I.

An old newspaper clipping reports that the body of Smith arrived in New York after he gave "up his life overseas."

Smith was killed at the age of 19 on June 14, 1918 in France during the Battle of Cantigny, which was the United States' first major offensive in WWI.

The wording on Smith's tombstone in the Zephyr Cemetery, which has already faded over time, states that he died in a gassing attack at the hands of German soldiers.

"We don't know if it was mustard or chlorine gas," Dr. Steve Kelly, a former president of the Central Texas Veterans' Memorial, said on Monday. "But when you die from being gassed, it destroys your lungs and you slowly suffocate."

Smith's death was so painful and slow because the proper medical care did not exist at the time to treat gas poisoning.

The board of directors for the Central Texas Veterans' Memorial is hoping to transfer Smith's 100-year-old grave marker to their site.

"This history is being forgotten, being phased out so to speak," Harold Stieber, President of the CTVM, said. "This is just a renewed awareness of the sacrifice the armed forces make for this country."

Dr. Kelly and Stieber said that the difficulty in moving Smith's tombstone is finding a relative who would give their blessing to allow his headstone to be moved to their site.

Until then, Smith's memory of paying the ultimate sacrifice for the red, white and blue will endure in the the Zephyr Cemetery, never to be forgotten.

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