By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – It was called “The Great War.” An estimated 16 million people lost their lives. Coloradans played a “great role.” Six hundred and 50 people from this state died fighting the war.

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(credit: CBS)

So many others served and were able to make it home. Among them was William Bradley Freeman. His grandson, who shares the name, remembers him well. His nickname was “King.”

“Ah ‘King’ Freeman was one of the most amazing men on this planet and I’ve seen lots of them,” he told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews William Bradley Freeman II. (credit: CBS)

William Bradly Freeman was named after his grandfather who first went to Siam (now Thailand) as a civilian
engineer. His namesake says the King of Siam befriended Freeman.

“King” Freeman (credit: CBS)

“‘King’ has this marvelous throne given by the king which had two ivory tusks.”

“King” later returned and commanded one of the largest mixed race battalions of the war.

“It has been 100 years, but ‘King’ Freeman has been in my heart since I was a little boy,” his grandson, now 70, said.

(credit: CBS)

“King” was deployed in Southeast Asia. In Denver he was a member of the University Club which is honoring its more than 90 members and staff who served with a ceremony and a plaque… names that even today are familiar.

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(credit: CBS)

Temple Buell (credit: CBS)

Architect Temple Buell, wounded in a combat, he also suffered lung problems in that vicious war.

There was Herman Coors, son of Adolph, George Cranmer, his name now on a Denver park, and Lawrence Phipps Jr. whose family later bought the Denver Broncos.

Herman Coors (credit: CBS)

George Cranmer (credit: CBS)

Lawrence Phipps Jr. (credit: CBS)

This war brought others from Colorado. Denver author Jeffrey B. Miller researching a book, “WWI Crusaders” learned of Maurice Pate who graduated from Denver’s East High School and volunteered in Belgium in 1916,

(credit: CBS)

“He went behind German lines to supervise food and clothes distribution so the Germans wouldn’t take the food,” he said.

Maurice Pate (credit: CBS)

It was of the largest food drive in the world. Pate was what was called a “delegate” for the Commission for Relief in Belgium. This was before the United States entered the war. The “delegates” had to leave once America entered the war.

(credit: CBS)

Miller says Pate was admirable in many ways.

100 years ago this “war to end all wars”, ended, but sadly failed to live up to that.

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.