Marines honor the fallen from World War I's Battle of Belleau Wood
via the Audacy.com web site
U.S. Marines participated in a memorial ceremony alongside representatives from the French and German militaries at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France, 29 May 2022. The ceremony is held annually in recognition of the Marines, soldiers and sailors of all three nations who fought and died in the Battle of Belleau Wood in June of 1918.
“This battle, this place, is more than a chapter in our storied history,” said the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger. “Belleau Wood was a demonstration of an unrivaled commitment to our allies and our partners, and to the cause of liberty… just as it was necessary then, our relationships and our collective commitment will be pivotal in the fights ahead.”The Battle of Belleau Wood is remembered for the intensity of the fighting and the heavy casualties sustained, as well as for the participation of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments. To this day, Marines assigned to these two regiments wear the French fourragère on the left shoulder of their uniforms as a reminder of their unit’s distinguished service during the First World War. “We can never repay the debt owed to those who rest here,” said retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who now serves as the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. “But we can and we will honor their service… These honored dead represent a legacy of our families, the diversity and values of who we are as a people, and what we represent as a nation.” Delegations from the U.S., French and German militaries, as well as civilian leaders from the nearby French town of Chateau-Thierry, delivered remarks, read poems, and laid wreaths at the memorial. The ceremony concluded with the playing of the French and American “Taps” and “Ich hatt eienen Kameraden” - a traditional song of the German military - and a rifle salute.
“This historical site of Belleau Wood is no longer a symbol of the grief that once divided our people, but has long since become a symbol of what we North Atlantic Treaty Organization soldiers stand for: the preservation of peace and the defense of freedom,” said Brigadier General Michael Podzus, the deputy commander of the German 10th Panzer Division. “Peace is not a static condition. It must be worked for, built, and maintained by every new generation, over and over again.”
On Memorial Day, remembering Major League Baseball's first World War I fatality
By Joe Guzzardi
via the Imperial Valley Press newspaper (CA) web site
On Memorial Day, remembering Major League Baseball’s first WWI fatality
Eddie Grant, a Harvard Law School graduate and a former third baseman who played for the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants, was the first major league baseball player killed in World War I.
In all, seven other major league players lost their lives in the Great War. They are Lt. Tom Burr, plane crash; Lt. Harry Chapman, illness; Lt. Larry Chappell, influenza; Pvt. Harry Glenn, pneumonia; Cpt. Newton Halliday, hemorrhages; Cpl. Ralph Sherman, drowned, and Purple Heart winner Sgt. Robert “Bun” Troy, shot.
Known affectionately among his teammates as “Harvard Eddie,” Grant debuted in the majors in 1905 after he graduated from Harvard, where he starred at baseball and was the basketball team’s top scorer. Grant eventually would play 990 games as an infielder through 1915.
An average dead ball era hitter, neither spectacular nor a detriment, Grant’s career average was .249 with five home runs. Grant’s best big-league season came in 1909 when he hit .269 as Philadelphia’s leadoff hitter and finished second in the National League with 170 hits. Opposition players considered him an above average fielder and particularly adept at handling bunts. In the 1913 World Series which the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-1, Grant saw limited action. He pinch-ran and scored in Game 2, and in Game 4, he hit a foul ball pop up that the A’s catcher easily snagged.
On April 6, 1917, two years after his baseball career ended at age 33, and with his law practice barely underway, Grant enlisted in the U.S. Army, the first major league player to sign up. In a letter to a friend, Grant proudly wrote: “I had determined from the start to be in this war should it come to us…I believe there is no greater duty than I owe for being that which I am – an American citizen.’’
American soldiers killed in WWI remembered forever in NYC ale house
By Kerry J. Byrne
via the Fox News web site
Every day is Memorial Day at McSorley’s Old Ale House in Manhattan.
It has been for more than 100 years, courtesy of a haunting, dusty reminder of the last stateside meal enjoyed by young American men before they were killed in Europe in World War I.
The venerable New York City saloon has been slinging suds on East 7th Street in the East Village since 1854. It’s one of the oldest bars in the Big Apple.
It's also now a tourist attraction beloved for its sawdust-covered floor, antiquated 19th-century ambiance and stubbornly limited drink options. Only light beer and dark beer are available — and on draft only.
Amid the bonhomie of a nostalgic neighborhood beer joint, McSorley’s quietly displays a haunting tribute to American doughboys whose wish for safe return from the battlefields of World War I was never granted.
"The Great War" exploded in Europe in 1914. The United States joined in 1917 and quickly hastened the defeat of Germany and its Central Power allies in 1918.
"As people were being drafted, McSorley’s would treat the guys who were regular customers to a turkey dinner" before they departed for Europe, longtime barkeep Steven "Pepe" Zwaryczuk explained to Fox News Digital this week.
"After the dinner, they would take the wishbone and hang it on this fixture," he said, pointing to a pair of light bulbs above the NYC bar.
The bulbs are joined by a connecting pipe, about 2 feet long, that makes a perfect hook upon which to hang a turkey wishbone.
Victorious soldiers and sailors found their way back to the neighborhood after the armistice ending the war was signed on Nov. 11, 1918.
These service members would, according to pub legend, remove a wishbone as a token of their safe return — and break it with the bartender.
The first was lost, the second vandalized. Providence unveils 3rd monument to World War I soldier
By Amy Russo
via the Providence Journal newspaper (RI) web site
PROVIDENCE — "Hopefully the word 'finally' has come to pass, and we won’t be doing this again anytime soon," said Jeremiah O’Connor, as a new monument to his uncle, a fallen World War I soldier, was unveiled Friday.
It's the third time O'Connor's family has tried to honor Carlo Lafazia, who was killed on French soil, fighting back the Germans in a final Allied assault during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
He died Oct. 11, 1918, one month before the war ended.
He was 20 years old.
Efforts to honor his sacrifice have been hit with bad luck. In 2013, as Admiral Street was repaved, its monument to Lafazia went missing, city employees apparently mystified as to where it went. In 2017, a new monument was erected. In 2021, it was vandalized, knocked off its foundation.
Councilman David Salvatore, who represents the area, offered a reward for information, though no one was ever caught.
"One of the most difficult phone calls that I’ve had to make during my time on the City Council was to Jerry and to let him know that the monument honoring his late uncle was vandalized right here in Eagle Park," Salvatore recalled. However, he vowed to "go bigger and better" than before.
With roughly $12,000, more than half of which was donated by real-estate developer Richard Baccari and the Rhode Island Heritage Foundation, and the rest of which was council funds, the city was able to do just that.
The National World War I Memorial Has a Doughboy in Full Uniform Playing 'Taps' Every Night
By Blake Stilwell
via the Military.com web site
On April 16, 2021, the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C., opened to the public for the first time. A month later, on Memorial Day 2021, a bugler dressed in a World War I-era U.S. Army uniform played "Taps" for the first time from the memorial grounds.
A World War I-era soldier -- not a real one, of course, the last veteran of that war died in 2011 -- has crossed the park at dusk to play the song every evening since.
"Taps" is a 24-note tune that has ended the U.S. military's workday since the middle of the Civil War. Before "Taps," American infantrymen ended the day with the French infantry call "extinguish lights," according to Taps historian Jari Villanueva.
Union Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield changed the “extinguish lights” command bugle to the tune of "Taps" in July 1862, a tune he reworked from an earlier song, with help from the unit's bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton.
A uniquely American arrangement, "Taps" soon spread to the Army of the Potomac and then the rest of the Union Army for the same purpose. The French command was quickly forgotten. By 1891, the song came into use for another reason: military funerals.
The 1891 U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations manual is the first officially recorded instance of playing "Taps" being mandatory at a funeral, but it was likely used in an unofficial manner long before then. At least one Civil War funeral, for an artilleryman in Virginia, was recorded to have used the song.
"Taps" is still the final song played on U.S. military installations every day, worldwide. It is also the congressionally recognized "National Song of Remembrance," which makes it especially fitting for the National World War I Memorial, as there are no more living veterans of World War I and none was alive to see it under construction.
This Memorial Day, remember the Meuse-Argonne
By Chris Gibbons
via the Broad & Liberty website
“No two men came out of the Meuse-Argonne exactly the same. Some changed their political outlook. Some grew more idealistic or embittered. Some found God; others lost their faith. All, however, had changed. The country would never be the same.” (Excerpt from “To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne 1918” by Edward G. Lengel)
When I found the World War I Service and Compensation File of 1st Lieutenant John H. Jenkins, I immediately looked at the document’s “Engagements” section. I often do that now when reviewing these files because this section lists the battles in which a veteran fought, which will give me an idea of what he may have endured.
There are two words I often find in this section that always give me pause. I pause because I’ve read extensively about what happened there and I try to imagine the Hell endured by those who fought there. I also pause out of respect.
On this day, my search for the alumni of Roman Catholic High School who fought in the Great War led me to John Henry Jenkins of the class of 1912. I not only wondered what happened to him during the war, but in his post-war years as well, and, again, I paused to stare at the two words I’ve come to know all too well: Meuse-Argonne.
The Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in World War I is the largest and deadliest battle ever fought by American soldiers.
The bitterly fought 1918 offensive, the main thrust of which was between France’s Meuse River and Argonne Forest, lasted 47 days, from Sept. 26 to Nov. 11. Nearly 1.2 million American soldiers participated in the battle, and when it concluded, the US had suffered an astounding 122,000 casualties, with 26,277 U.S. troops dead and over 95,000 wounded.
As Edward Lengel accurately wrote, America would never be the same after the Meuse-Argonne, and I would come to learn that those who fought there were never the same as well.
Seven Indiana heroes followed for upcoming PBS documentary on World War I
By Jo Throckmorton
via the Herald-Times newspaper (IN) web site
Six days. Fifty locations. One thousand six hundred miles. Seven Hoosier Heroes. Four languages. Three countries. One great adventure.
This is my final dispatch from France, where I am traveling to learn the deeper stories of seven Hoosier heroes. The little Lexus crossover was put through the paces as we traveled nearly 300 miles every day to tape at just over eight locations. Many of those locations were found down what barely classify as wagon trails back home.
What we discovered was so much more than could be found in books. We had the distinct honor of walking in the same lanes, fields and towns as those about whom we had come to learn more.
Cpl. James Bethel Gresham was from Evansville. On Nov. 3, 1917, in a trench in far Eastern France, he became the first U.S. soldier to die in World War I.
Pvt. Laurens Bennett Strain was from Bloomington. He was killed in action just after midnight on June 7, 1918, by a machine gun bullet to the head.
Sgt. Ernest Finley Duncan, of Bloomington, received the Silver Star and the French Croix-de-Guerre. He died in the first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in the war in the Belleau Wood on June 10, 1918.
Sgt. Louis Carl Rupholdt was from Goshen. He was killed alongside a railroad track on July 15, 1918. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in the action near Mezy, France, as he held his post on the bank of the Marne River until nearly his entire platoon was annihilated and he himself wounded. After being carried a short distance to the rear, he continued to direct the defense of the position until killed.
Lt. Samuel Woodfill was from Madison. He would become Indiana’s only Medal of Honor recipient for action in World War I. Woodfill overtook two snipers and four machine gun nests on the morning of Oct. 12, 1918, in the small town of Cunel, France.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Education Module
By Emily Rheault, Education Manager
Arlington National Cemetery
As part of the centennial commemoration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) released a special Tomb of the Unknown Soldier education module. This module explores themes and topics related to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier through digital materials created for audiences of all ages. This module was the fourth education module released as part of Arlington National Cemetery’s (ANC) first Education Program, launched in 2020.
The development of ANC’s Education Program is being led by Blake Learning Solutions (BLS), a private instructional design company contracted by ANC for this project. In 2019, BLS conducted meetings with ANC historians, leaders, and staff to understand their goals, challenges, audiences, stakeholders, and opportunities. BLS’ team of educators and historians also conducted an extensive review of books, articles, and primary sources relating to the cemetery. From this analysis, BLS identified vision and mission statements, goals, and guiding principles for the ANC Education Program. For example, the program explores ANC as a microcosm of American history and diversity and strives to reach five key audiences. These audiences include families visiting the cemetery, lifelong learners, and elementary, middle, and high school students and teachers. The team also worked with ANC to create a list of themes and modules to develop over the next five years, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier module includes cemetery walking tours for adults and school groups visiting the cemetery, a digital, primary source-based exploration of the Tomb across its history, and K-12 lesson plans for teachers to use in their classrooms. All the materials in this module, and in every ANC Education module, were developed using primary and secondary historical sources and according to museum and educational best practices. The materials also meet Section 508 compliance standards.
After discussing which topics to focus on in this module, the BLS team and ANC History Office settled on three key areas. First, the centrality of World War I to the story of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Second, the history of unidentified and unknown service members. And third, the evolving symbolism and public understanding of the Tomb.
During the walking tour, users visit 14 stops throughout the cemetery that tell the story of the Tomb. These stops include: the Tomb of the Civil War Unknowns, the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle and whose remains could not be identified; the grave of architect Lorimer Rich, who designed the Tomb with sculptor Thomas H. Jones; the Mother of the Unknown Soldier Memorial Tree; and the grave of Sergeant Edward F. Younger, who selected the World War I Unknown Soldier. The walking tour also includes questions that encourage visitors to reflect on symbolism of the Tomb and what it means to them. A simplified version of this tour is available for visiting school groups and families with children.
Ripon American Legion named after first local casualties of WWI, WWII
via the Ripon Commonwealth Press newspaper (WI) web site
Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” is celebrated the last Monday of May.
It is a national holiday that originated in the years following the Civil War and honors those people who died while serving in the U.S. military.
This Memorial Day, the Ripon Historical Society honors the two men who the Ripon Brown-Parfitt American Legion Post Number 43 is named after.
The American Legion was founded in 1919, just one year after the close of World War I.
It is a non-profit organization that enhances the well-being of American’s veterans, their families, the military and communities through their devotion to mutual helpfulness.
The Ripon post was organized June 30, 1919. On Sept. 16, 1919, then-President Woodrow Wilson signed an act to incorporate the national American Legion organization and Ripon became a unit at that time.
At the September 1919 meeting, the post was named the “Frank H. Brown Chapter of the American Legion,” in honor of the first Ripon serviceman to have died during World War I.
Brown (1892-1918) was originally from Fond du Lac and had purchased a greenhouse business on Metomen Street with his brother just before he entered the Army.
He was a private with Company D 2nd Regiment and served in France with the 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Division. The June 28, 1918 Ripon Commonwealth Press reported that he died “from wounds received in action. The first of Ripon’s brave boys to die in the gigantic struggle.”
Brown’s body was not returned to Wisconsin until 1921. The April 8, 1921 Commonwealth reported on the funeral held in Fond du Lac, noting “about fifty members of the Ripon Post American Legion, which was named after the deceased, attended in uniform. ... all the pall bearers and the entire firing squad were Ripon men.”
NJ artist gives veterans preview of sculpture for World War I Memorial
By Richard Giacovas
via the Fox 5 New York television station web site
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. - It's been more than a labor of love for Sabin Howard. With each carve, the New Jersey sculptor remembers and honors the brave Americans who fought in the first world war.
"You hear the words 'in service of.' That's what I feel I'm in service of," Howard said. "I realized how much suffering has gone into their experience and how little caring is involved in our society towards people that have sacrificed."
The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission chose Howard to create a sculpture for the national memorial to remember a war they feared would be forgotten. The sculpture is called "A Soldier's Journey" and features five scenes and 38 figures.
"He leads the battle charge. After that you have the cost of war," Howard said. "Here is transformed — shell shocked."
Every story is deeply personal and emotional, especially for veterans like Wilfred Selby, a medic who treated soldiers wounded in combat. As he looked at the faces of these sculptures in Howard's studio, he couldn't help but feel overwhelmed.
"It's very emotional," said Selby, who was among a group of veterans given an exclusive preview of the memorial in the workshop in Englewood in Bergen County.
Howard began sculpting this back in August 2019. As each stage is finished, it is taken to a foundry where it will be cast in bronze. All of it is expected to be completed at the end of 2023 and then brought to the National Mall in our nation's capital for a special unveiling on Memorial Day 2024.
Howard's hands still have a lot of work ahead of them. But for this artist, it is the least he can do to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and who lived this journey —a soldier's journey.
A life remembered: WWI soldier exhibited bravery on, off the battlefield
By Michael Reid
via the Southern Maryland News web site
In the shade of an old beech tree at the Christ Church cemetery in Port Republic sits a dark gray headstone pockmarked with splotches of moss.
While his grave may be unassuming, the life of First Lt. Milton Barkley Mackall was anything but.
After being seriously injured in World War I, Mackall spent six years confined to a bathtub.
“Lt. Mackall’s story shows one of true heroism even though not awarded as such,” Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs George Owings said. “Meaning that he literally gave of himself far beyond what could be expected.”
“I thought somebody down there should know this story,” said Brian Reynolds, who has been a volunteer at Fort McHenry with the National Parks Service since 2009. “Mackall’s story is the most unique from that era because of his circumstance of treatment.”
Mackall was born July 4, 1893, in Baltimore, but at the age of 9 went to live with relatives in Great Mills, presumably after his mother Anna died in 1902 at the age of 30.
He enlisted in 1916 with the Fourth Regiment, which morphed into 115th Infantry Regiment as part of 29th Infantry Division, also known as Blue-Gray.
Mackall listed his next of kin as an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. I.P. Bowen of Great Mills.
In October 1918, Mackall was fighting in the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in France. The 47-day battle, which involved 1.2 million U.S. soldiers, was the deadliest in the history of the U.S. Army, and resulted in more than 350,000 casualties, including 26,277 American lives.
Mackall was crossing an area known as No Man’s Land — the area between opposing trenches — when a sniper’s bullet partially severed his spinal cord in the thoracic area.
Mackall was sent to Army General Hospital No. 2 at Fort McHenry on April 8, 1919, and, in an attempt to lessen the strain on his spine, spent his days in a bathtub suspended by floating bags.
Three East Greenwich WWI Veterans Who Didn’t Come Home
By Alan Clarke
via the East Greenwich News (RI) EGNEWS web site
The observance of Memorial Day brings to mind all the local boys who fought and died in past wars. I found these three news clippings about World War I amongst the papers of the late Charles T. Algren, which were donated to the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society as part of its permanent collection.
It is fitting to remember that World War I also affected everyone locally and many local people contributed to the war effort, some making the ultimate sacrifice. In republishing these clips from 1917-18, we honor these lads and add a bit of their story to the statistics that often overlook that their promising lives were cut short by this dumbest of all human endeavors.
Local Boy Killed in France
First from East Greenwich to lose his Life in Action
The seriousness of the war was brought home to East Greenwich people Friday by the news of the death of Corporal Richard S. Conover, the son of Rev. James P. Conover, Rector of St. Luke’s Church.
Corporal Conover was one of the first to volunteer for service. Mrs. Conover, mother of the boy, received the sad news at their summer home in Middletown. The father has reached England in the Red Cross Service as chaplain on his way to the battlefield, where he will do first line service.
Prayers were offered Sunday in several of the local churches for the bereaved family and for the success of the cause for which our boys are giving their lives.
An Other Boy Killed in Action
Victor Lorenson dies for his Country
Private Victor J. Lorenson of East Greenwich was killed in active service June 16th, 1918. His death occurred two days before his 20th birthday, He was one of the first to volunteer from this town. He joined Troop M., R. I. Cavalry while they were at Quonset Point, July 1917. From there he went to Boxford as part of the 103rd Regiment. He left for France in October 1917 and has been in active service since March 1918.
He was a member of the Kentish Guards and previous to that of the Boy Scouts. He was well liked by his comrades. He leaves two sisters, Mrs. James Wilding and Mrs. Leslie Carpenter of this town, and two brothers, Charles and Fred Lorenson, the latter in service at the Submarine Base of New London, Conn.
Louisiana’s Fort Polk could be renamed after World War I hero
By Scott Lewis
via the KLFY television station (LA) web site
WASHINGTON (KLFY) — Louisiana’s Fort Polk could be renamed, along with eight other U.S. Army installations around the nation which were originally named for Confederate leaders.
The announcement comes from the military’s Naming Commission, which has submitted its recommendations to Congress. According to Wikipedia, Fort Polk was named in honor of Confederate Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk of Tennessee. Polk was also the founder of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. He was also a second cousin of U.S. President James Polk.
Under the recommendation, Fort Polk could be renamed to Fort Johnson, in honor of Sgt. William Henry Johnson, an African-American World War I Medal of Honor recipient from North Carolina who served in the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment.
According to the U.S. Army, Johnson and fellow soldier Pvt. Needham Roberts were ambushed by at least 12 German soldiers on May 15, 1918. Roberts and Johnson were both wounded, but Johnson not only prevented Roberts from being taken prisoner, but he advanced with only a knife to engage in hand-to-hand combat and held back the Germans until they retreated.
Johnson also became one of the first Americans to be awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme, France’s highest award for valor. Johnson died in July 1929. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002.