Living memories of long ago war's dead





On April 1, 1917, a crewman aboard the German submarine U 46 spied a vessel riding low in the water off the northwestern coast of France. It was the American steamship Aztec, and it carried what the Germans considered a contraband cargo.

The United States had not yet entered the Great War, but the U-boat commander considered such freighters a provocation. He gave the order to fire a torpedo. Aboard the Aztec, manning one of the three-inch guns that had been hastily installed as a defensive measure before the ship left New York, was Jonathan Eopolucci, a boatswain's mate with the U.S. naval guard. He was 27 and had been in the Navy eight years. He was from 649 I St. SE in Washington.

The torpedo found its target.

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One morning last week, Lee Rogers picked me up in front of The Post. We headed up 15th Street NW in his white Hyundai then cut over to 16th and continued north. We were going back in time.

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On May 30, 1920 -- Memorial Day -- a somber ceremony was held at the intersection of 16th Street and Alaska Avenue NW. The Marine Corps Band was there, a Navy chaplain, the Honorable Benedict Crowell, assistant secretary of war, and officials from most of the city's veterans groups, from the American Legion to the United Confederate Veterans....

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