Orofino WWI Soldier Honored 100 Years after Death


The somber sound of "Amazing Grace" flowed from a bagpipe and onto Orofino's Michigan Avenue on Thursday, as VFW Post 3296 celebrated sacrifice in part memorial, part military funeral.

"Aim, fire!" Some in the small crowd flinched as the 21 gun salue rang out, another symbolic gesture for the man whose memory they'd gathered to honor. "We're here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lieutenant Harold E. Kinne," Master of Ceremonies Dave Owsley announced.

Born in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, Harold Kinne moved with his family to Orofino in 1904. The town still bears signs of his legacy; VFW Post 3296 is named after him and many of his descendants still live here.

"Heard lots of stories," Mike McCarthy says. He is Kinne's nephew, but though he's heard so much about him that it feels like he knows him, Mike never got to meet his Uncle Harold. "He was killed in Soissons, France, July 19, 1918 while trying to take out a German machine gun emplacement."

The World War I lieutenant left a college education for education of a different kind - trench warfare. It eventually brought him to the frontlines, where he would die just four months before the war ended.

"My uncle's death really affected my grandmother a great deal, both my grandparents and my mother. Growing up we had Harold's military issued steamer trunk in our basement." McCarthy remembers his mother allowing he and his brother to wear Harold's uniform and play army. It's those memories of a man he never got to know that live on, making Thursday's ceremony so meaningful.

The family even received a plaque commemorating Kinne's memory in an unexpected way. "As mayor of the City of Orofino, Clearwater County, State of Idaho, it is my honor and privilege to proclaim July 19, 2018 as Harold E. Kinne Day," Mayor Ryan Smathers announced at the event.

McCarthy and his family are overjoyed that their loved ones memory hasn't faded in Orofino, even 100 years later. "It means a great deal. It means a great deal and I know for my grandparents, his mom and dad, they would be thrilled with this."

Kinne was one of six Clearwater County men killed in World War I - a war that claimed over 116,000 American lives.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off