Gravestone coming for Medina man killed in World War I

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Debbie Morse is pictured near a spot at Boxwood Cemetery where a gravestone will soon be installed for her great-uncle, Jay David Hebner, who was killed in World War I.

MEDINA – Debbie Morse remembers her late father, Don Cook, mentioning one of his uncles had been killed in World War I.

Cook was a prominent local photographer who served in World War II. He died in 2004. Morse recently reflected on her father’s uncle. She didn’t know much about Jay David Hebner. But she has been researching him.

Hebner grew up in Medina and lived at 920 Gwinn St. He was born in Le Roy and enlisted in Company F, the 74th Infantry of the New York Guard that trained out of the Armory in Medina. Hebner enlisted on Dec. 4, 1917, and was discharged on April 26, 1918. Morse isn’t sure why he was discharged, but she found documents showing he joined the Army on April 3, 1918. The Army private was killed in France on Sept. 17, 1918, at age 22. He was hit by a shell.

Hebner is buried at Saint Mihiel American Cemetery in France, one of 4,153 American soldiers in the cemetery. Hebner doesn’t show up in Company F records. His service isn’t noted on the Company F Monument outside the Armory, the Pearl Street building that is now the YMCA.

Provided photos – Jay David Hebner, a Medina native, was killed in France in 1918, serving in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Morse and her husband Jim have paid for a gravestone for Hebner which should be installed soon in Boxwood Cemetery. The stone will be next to the Hebners and Cooks. (Don Cook’s father Irving Cook married Etta Hebner.)

“It’s about bringing honor to him,” Mrs. Morse said Friday at her home on Erie Street. “There’s nothing about him in the village.”

Morse thinks Hebner’s parents may not have had the money to bring the soldier home to be buried in Medina or to buy him a gravestone.

“It was important to me to leave behind a reminder of that sacrifice, one that has gone unnoticed all these years,” Morse said.

Morse, who works as a kitchen designer for Barden Homes, said other researchers helped her locate Hebner’s military records, and also find a picture of him.

“My wish is that from this day forward he will have the respect and remembrance he deserves each and every Memorial Day along with the countless others who gave so much for our country,” she said. “After all he has been waiting almost 100 years.”

A record shows Hebner started at Company F in medina on Dec. 4, 1917 and was discharged on April 26, 1918.

This gravestone will soon be installed to recognize Jay David Hebner’s service to his country.