|Percy Frederick Boarts is interred at the Kirkland Cemetery.|
As another Memorial Day weekend comes to an end, we at the Kirkland Historical Foundation were gratified to see so much emphasis on the true meaning of what was once called 'Decoration Day', for the tradition of communities turning out to clean up their local cemeteries and decorate the graves of fallen military personnel.Memorial Day is about honoring those who died in military service, but it is important to remember that in most of our past wars, many, many died not in battle but from sickness and disease that but for their military service they would not likely have been exposed to.
|Though Percy Boarts is not in this photo of soldiers at Rich Field, we seen men he served with at the time and a little insight as to where he spent the last weeks of his life.|
|An abandoned Rich Field hangar decades after the war, it as demolished in the 1960's.|
|A wartime shot of barracks at Camp MacArthur, c.1917.|
What we do know is that the living conditions in the barracks were such that the aspiring airman from the small, fourth-class town of about 600 souls on the east shore of Lake Washington got sick. First a bad cough, then fever. He was admitted to the Camp MacArthur base hospital on Saturday, February 2, 1918 and he did not get any better, he got even sicker. In 1918, medical technology was still quite crude -- for example, antibiotics would not enter widespread use for another 25 years or so. There was not much doctors of that time could really even do.
|A Curtiss JN-4 'Jenny' trainer assigned to Rich Field when Percy Boarts was stationed there. Post war, surplus Jenny aircraft were the plane of choice for the barnstormers who enthralled crowds during the 1920s.|
|Percy Boarts' death certificate.|
It is not yet known whether Nora or Percy's other family members back home in Kirkland even knew of his hospitalization. We do know that at 12:02 AM on Thursday, February 7, that a base hospital doctor, 1st Lt J.W. Henry, declared PFC Percy F. Boarts, A.S, S.C. dead of Bronchopneumonia. He was 22 years, one month and one day old and he left behind a 20 year-old widow.
His father, John Boarts, of Kirkland, provided the additional details to the Army for his death certificate. His body was shipped home to Kirkland, where he was interred in the Kirkland Cemetery near his late brother-in-law, Robert R. Wiley, who had died in 1916 at age 27, a Seattle Police Officer who, along with his partner, Sgt. John F. Weedin, 45, was gunned down when the two came across a burglary in progress when they were off duty and headed home. Wiley's widow was Etta Mary (Brooks) Wiley, Nora's sister.Nora remarried Leslie Burgess of Yakima in 1919 and moved there with him, where the two had three daughters. Nora died in 1958 and was laid to rest in Yakima.
There are still a great number of Emery and Belle Brooks' descendents living in and around Kirkland today.
|Percy died while trying to earn these wings in life. If you look closely at the top of his grave marker you can see that he received them posthumously.|
I have not been able to locate a photo of Percy in life, nor does there seem to be a surviving image of his brother-in-law, Robert Wiley. If you are a family member and have any of these men, we would like to scan it to make it available for further research efforts, please drop us a line!