Wiltz “Prof” Gremillion
Wiltz “Prof” Gremillion was a 23-year old man living in Plaucheville when he went to war in France in 1918 during World War 1. Born August 1, 1893, Wiltz entered service on May 31, 1917. Although his official records were lost in the St. Louis archive fire in the 1980’s, we know from the family that he was trained as a medic and served under General John “Black Jack” Pershing. On May 1, 1918 he was promoted to Private First class. Wiltz saw action in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the largest American engagement in World War I. From September 26 to November 11, 1918 the American Expeditionary Forces lost 26, 277 men with 95, 786 more wounded. That is more than ten times the number of U.S. servicemen killed in the 17 years of the Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts; in just a month and a half! According to the Gremillion family, Wiltz was wounded in the shoulder during this offensive. After the war ended, Wiltz stayed on in France and attended the University of Poitier and earned a degree. He was honorably discharged on August 4, 1919.
After his studies in France, Wiltz returned home and began teaching school. Prof married Lena Murphy and began a family and a career in education. He coached basketball and taught at Bordelonville High School. He relocated to Simmesport and eventually became principal of Simmesport High School for over 20 years. May of his students can remember his Memorial Day moments at 11:11 AM, the end of WWI. During that span of time he saw the second world war break out and watched as many of his young students, some who just graduated and quite a few who were seniors, join the military to fight in the war. Some did not return.
Prof Gremillion was not only active in the education of quite a few of the citizens of Simmesport, but he was also active in his church and served on the Church Council for Christ the King Catholic Church, helping to design and finance the church that is there now. Some time around 1957 he retired from the Avoyelles Parish School System. Wilt’s loving wife, Lena, passed away in 1967. Prof, as he was known by everyone in the community, continued to serve his town and church. Prof Gremillion passed away in 1975. The Town of Simmesport would like to salute this veteran, one of a handful of Simmesport residents who served in World War I, now 100 years in the past.