Ralph Gordon Orndoff

The following profile was researched and compiled by Candice L. Buchanan and Glenn J. R. T. Toothman III, for www.RainDayBoys.com.

Birth: 29 August 1895 Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Parents: George Orndoff and Harriet Gordon

Residence at time of enlistment: Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania

Physical description: Medium height, stout build, dark blue eyes, light brown hair

Death: Killed in action 20 October 1918 France

Age at death: 23 years old

Last resting place: Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Lorraine, France

A cenotaph also exists for him in the family lot at Fairall Methodist Church Cemetery in Whiteley Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Military rank: Serial No. 2431503. Private. Company A, 7th Infantry, 3rd Division.

Cause of death: Shellfire

Additional information:

Ralph was the only son in a family of five children. His parents and four sisters took his loss very hard. Anxious for information, they wrote letters to the officers under whom Ralph had most recently served. On 6 March 1919, the Waynesburg Republican published the responses that the family received: 
"Ralph G. Orndoff Fell in Battle.
Mr. and Mrs. George B. Orndoff Receive Letters gtom Officers of Co. to which Their Son Belonged.
Was a Member of 7th Infantry Regulars - Did His Duty Bravely. - Met Death Near Montfaucon, France, in Argonne Forest.
On November 25 last, Mr. and Mrs. George B. Orndoff, of Franklin township, were notified by the War Department that their son, Private Ralph G. Orndoff, who was a member of Company A, 7th Infantry (Regulars), had been killed in action on October 20, 1918, but the particulars of how and where he met his death were not known by the family until last week when the following letters were received by Mrs. Orndoff and her daughter, Miss Edith M. Orndoff:
January 29, 1919
Mrs. George B. Orndoff,
Waynesburg, Pa.
Dear Madam:
Having received a request from Mrs. Margaret Jones for information regarding the death of your son, Private Ralph G. Orndoff, am writing ou direct and also Mrs. Jones. It is with pleasure that we write these letters to some people, namely those who have given such brave and sturdy men for the cause. Private Orndoff was not a member of this organization very long before his death, but always commanded the respect of his comrades, played the part of a gentleman, respectful to his superior officers and always willing to do his part.
This organization went into action September 29, 1918, in the Argonne Forest, north of Montfaucon and continued to advance until October 27, 1918. On October 20th, while the company was in action, Private Orndoff was struck by fragments of a shell and killed instantly. He was undoubtedly buried at the place of his death, near Madelene Farm and north of Montfaucon. You will no doubt be notified of the exact location of his grave from the Bureau of Graves Registration and if there were any personal effects taken from him at the time of his death they will be forwarded by the Quartermaster with his final statement.
The officers and enlisted men of the company hold a heart of sympathy for the mothers of such men as was taken from you, but share with you the glory of having fought beside a man who willingly gave his life for a noble cause.
Joseph R. Hudson
Clerk Co. A, 7th Inft.
Co. A, 7th Inft. A. E. F.
January 28, 1919
Miss Edith M. Orndoff
Waynesburg, Pa.
Dear Miss:
Your letter of inquiry regarding the death of your brother, Private Ralph Orndoff, received. I regret that I cannot personally give you the details of the death of your brother, so I have made inquiry among the members of the company who were with Private Orndoff when he was killed and find that Private Owen W. House of this organization was not far from Private Orndoff when the latter was killed. It happened near Madalene Farm, a farm in the Argonne Forest and north of Montfaucon. Private House says that Private Orndoff was killed instantly by fragments of a shell which exploded near them. Private House is uncertain who buried Private Orndoff or whether there were any personal effects taken from him. The exact location of the grave will doubtless be furnished you by the Bureau of Graves Registration at a later date and if there were any personal effects taken they will be forwarded to you by the Quartermaster with soldier's final statement.
It was the desire of the company commander to write to the next of kin of each of the casualties immediately after coming off the front, but this was prohibited by the censorship regulations and am sure for a good reason. Now that it is all over it is a pleasure for us to furnish those at home any possible information regarding their loved one over here and especially in the cases of those who were such good men and did their part so nobly and willingly as did Private Ralph Orndoff. He had not been a member of this organization very long, but was known as one of the best in the company and lived up to his reputation until the last.
The officers and men of this organization sympathize with those at home and hold a heart of sympathy for those who have lost the ones who were dearest to them.
Stine L. Jones
1st Sgt., Co. A 7th Inft."


  • Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery (Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Lorraine, France), Ralph G. Orndoff tombstone, Plot A, Row 8, Grave 29; personally read and photographed by Candice Buchanan and Glenn Toothman, 2017.
  • "Ralph G. Orndoff Fell in Battle" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 6 March 1919.
  • "United States, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=6482 : accessed 14 January 2018), Ralph Gordon Orndoff draft card, serial no. 709, Local Draft Board, East Franklin, Greene County, Pennsylvania; citing National Archives microfilm publication M1509, FHL roll 1892940.
  • "WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60884 : accessed 14 January 2018), Edith M. Orndoff, sister of Ralph Gordon Orndoff - application no. 272886; citing World War I Veterans Service and Compensation File, 1934–1948 (RG 19, Series 19.91), Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.