RICHMOND, Va. -- Kyndall Drumheller shares an unbreakable bond with a man she never met.
Her great-grandfather, William Boston Cardoza, was born in the 19th century. As a teen Wilbur marched out of his home at 1410 Grove Avenue to answer the call of duty. One hundred years ago this month, her great-grandfather survived the Meuse-Argonne offensive during World War I.
“Just reading about shells going off and people disappearing," Kyndall said. “I would say going through war and seeing what he saw would age you."
The month and half long affair marked the U.S. Army’s deadliest battle in history.
Kyndall said her ancestor was tasked with an unenviable and unspeakable job.
“He would drive across the battlefield and pick up wounded soldiers," Kyndall said. “From the trenches and fighting in No Man’s Land. It was pretty bad.”
The battle-hardened soldier gassed on the battlefield would survive, eventually returning to Richmond.
“I didn’t get to know him, unfortunately. Quite the character. I heard he was quite jolly," Kyndal said.
According to Kyndall, the kind-hearted Cardoza never stopped caring for others.
“I know in his later years he was big with the Shriners. He went to the burn unit. Every year would go to the burn unit at MCV dressed as Santa Claus," Kyndall said.
Wilbur passed away at age 84 in 1983 before Kyndall was born.
“I didn’t know too much about WWI until I realized I had a connection," she said.
But the researcher at the Virginia War Memorial said personal effects like postcards he sent from the front lines and his wool uniform on display keep her great-grandfather close.
“This one was actually dated October 30th, 1917. He was writing his mother," Kyndall said. “It brings you to that time period and its important."
Kyndall said Wilbur’s service during the Great War fueled her passion for history.
“Just thinking about what he went through and saw as a young adult. It is pretty moving."
With the anniversary of the end of WWI in sight, Kyndall said she hoped people paused and remembered those who gave so much of themselves
“I’m very proud. I’m very proud of his service. The country wouldn’t be the same without what they did fighting for freedom. Tyranny and oppression. We owe them a lot," she said.
You can see Wilbur Boston Cardoza's uniform on display at the Virginia War Memorial seven days a week.
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