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Ashe County Veterans History Project: Alonzo Fred Phipps
Alonozo F. Phipps (back row, first on left) with other soldiers in France (1917-1918?)
Valentine's Day card Alonzo F. Phipps received in 1935
Alonzo F. Phipps later reused his World War I helmet as a cat food bowl.
Alonzo Fred Phipps's Story
Alonzo Fred Phipps was born on Smithy Road in Crumpler, NC, on October 23, 1896. He was drafted into the army during World War I. When he left his home, he told his father that when he got to where he was going he would write. Alonzo’s father waited 22 days and then received a letter from his son from France. Alonzo apparently got very little basic training and was shipped to France as quickly as possible.
While in France, Alonzo was exposed to gas. He told his nephew and namesake, Alonzo “Bunt” Phipps that as soon as the gas came across the area, the service men had to put on their gas masks and keep them on for three days. Then on the third day, the soldiers drew straws to see which one was to take off his mask first. If the soldier took off the mask and didn’t die, then the others felt safe in taking off theirs too.
As a result of being gassed, Alonzo was discharged in 1918 and sent to Augusta, Georgia, to a hospital to recover. He ended up staying in the hospital until 1931. After his discharge from the hospital, Alonzo was afflicted with stomach problems his entire life.
Alonzo returned back home to Crumpler. He never married but did have a girlfriend for a while. Despite his many obstacles because of fighting in the Great War, Alonzo became a successful farmer, owning over 250 acres of land and having as many as 50 head of cattle at one time.