An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News
NEWS | May 24, 2024

Connecticut World War I Soldier posthumously receives Purple Heart

By Timothy Koster

GUILFORD, Conn. – A Connecticut National Guard Soldier assigned to Company M, 102nd Infantry Regiment, who perished in World War I posthumously received the Purple Heart during a ceremony at the Guilford town green May 24, 2024, more than 100 years after his death.

U.S. Army Sgt. Paul Maynard, of Torrington, Connecticut, was killed in action on the last day of the war while serving in France and is documented as the last service member from Connecticut to be killed in the war.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) presented the Purple Heart to Rick Maynard, Paul’s grandnephew.

Also in attendance were several current members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, which is one of the oldest active units in the U.S. military, with a heritage that dates back to the colonial militia.

According to Maynard, the ceremony brought his family closure after their journey to learn more about their great-uncle’s life and military service began in 2010 when they discovered a package of letters he’d sent home from the war while cleaning out their father’s basement.

“I opened it up and saw about three dozen letters written from Paul to my grandfather from the battlefields of France,” Maynard said. “I started reading these letters and said, ‘Oh my goodness! This is amazing!’”

Since their discovery, Sgt. Maynard’s family has worked with historians to piece together his story. And, with the help of Christine Pittsley, the special projects curator at the Connecticut State Library, they were even able to pinpoint the exact coordinates of where he died on the battlefield.

“I think Paul was very proud to wear the American uniform and even prouder to serve his country,” said Lisa Ann Maynard in a 2015 documentary about Sgt. Maynard presented by the American Battle Monuments Commission. “Everybody put a lot on the line, and I’m really hoping that Paul will be the catalyst for people to say, ‘let’s look more into our history in this.’”

During the ceremony, Maynard talked about how his great-uncle was a patriot and one of the first people to enlist to serve in the war from his hometown. He described him as selfless, always sending home his military pay to help his family with their bills as he didn’t need the money over there. And he shared excerpts from the letters, including one from his last letter, dated Nov. 4, 1918, to his brother, just one week before he was killed by a German artillery strike.

“Well, Glen, I thought a good many times I never would be able to write home again. We have had a hard time on this front and we’ll be glad when it’s over with. Write often and don’t forget your old chum.”

Maynard was compelled to share this particular excerpt because he felt the final line encapsulated the true meaning of Memorial Day, which Americans were preparing to celebrate a few days later. “Don’t forget your old chum”. Don’t forget the men and women who’ve given their lives to protect our nation. Don’t forget the brothers and sisters who never returned home.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the Purple Heart represents that you spilled blood for the United States, and you were willing to give your life for it,” said John Alberghini, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient, in an interview with WTNH.

The 102nd Infantry Regiment has a storied history during World War I. They were the first American unit to see heavy combat in the War during the battle of Seichprey. They also participated in the battles of Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, and the Battle of Verdun, just to name a few. Sergeant Maynard and Company M fought in some of the war’s most intense battles, such as the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Saint-Mihiel Campaign, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

He was killed on the last day of the war as he worked to pull his men back from the front line and is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Plot D Row 24, Grave 26.

He was 21 years old.