In light of our newest exhibit, "Honor Roll of Routt County," an exhibit honoring the American Legion and the courageous citizens from Routt County who served in WW I, we bring you this story:
“A Routt County Boy” (Denver Post, Aug, 20, 1918)
It isn’t all brag! Life out of doors, the tussle with nature, the life training one gets from contact with first principles, does put something in the heart and the bones that isn’t acquired in the older, crowded tine-worn earth sections.
Victor Chergo gives a concrete case.
We who know the West and understand how Victor Chergo grew up not to be afraid of bear, or wildcats, or mountain lions, suspect that he was familiar with the mechanism of a rifle by the time he knew his A, B, Cs; that he could “coon” a fallen log or jump a creek, climb a cliff or ride a snowslide almost as soon as he could walk; rough it with the best of them at 10; sleep out of doors, ride a horse, rope a steer and round up wild mustangs before he was out of his teens; could bluff a cattle rustler or stand off a gun man before he could vote. Therefore, his friends are not surprised that Victor Chergo has made Uncle Sam something of a first-class fighting man.
Victor is 20. His home is in Twenty-mile Park, Routt County, Colorado, fifteen miles from Steamboat Springs as the crow flies; a mere jog when Victor had, as a boy, to go that route for the mail. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Chergo are his parents.
It is 2,300 miles from Washington to Twenty-mile park; 4,000 miles from Washington to a certain busy line somewhere in France. But the bosses of that buys line in France took a few minutes off the other duty to tell Washington about Victor Chergo and Washington though so well of the news that it stopped for a minute or two to pass it on to Twentymile Park, in Routt County, Colorado.
There had a been a lot of shooting going on at the very spot on the busy line somewhere in France where Victor Chergo happened to be; Victor hadn’t noticed that a lot of the other fellows had quit fighting and that he was alone, except that a bunch of boches had him surrounded, and in a fashion roped and hog-tied.
As a prisoner he was taken back of the fighting line, and the Huns, after a good look at the kid, decided that about five of their number would be a correct detail to go along and keep him prisoner. Fortunatley, they guessed wrong; they needed a whole lot more than five, but the carless Huns had never heard of Twentymile park, in Routt County, Coloardo, where a boy spits in the face of a wildcat and calls the bears by their given names.
Victor took a glance at the situation and got busy. The battle still was going on back there and Victor had remembered several things he had meant to do while it lasted. He started inon the five. There weren’t any life guards-only five dead ones-after Victor got the “hang” of one of the their own smoke barrels, which he took from the nearest man.
It was quite a jog across No Man’s land to where the fighting was good, but the boy who used to trot 15 miles over mountains to get the family mail could make it in nothing flat, so pretty soon Victor was back, taking a fresh hand in the fighting.
Victor thought so little of it that he forgot to write his mother that he had been over among the Huns and found their number decreasing, but the Big Boss up at the front thought it a pretty neat bit of heroism, so he related the tale to the war department, and the war department sent a special message to Mr. and Mrs. Chergo of Twentymile Park to say that they had raised “some kid” and “thank you very much, in the name of the USA.”
Photo courtesy: Library of Congress