Timelaspe: Master Sculptor Sabin Howard and his team assemble one of the panels of the National WWI Monument which is to be unveiled in Washington DC.
In Englewood, America's World War I monument gets its crowning touch
By Jim Beckerman
via the Daily Record newspaper (NJ) web site
The worst thing, for any commander, is to lose a soldier.
Even if the soldier is 6 feet, 8 inches tall, 300 pounds, and made of clay.
"I feel sick, but I've got to lead the team," said master sculptor Sabin Howard, who on Monday had to undergo an ordeal he's already been through several times. One of his sculptures was being moved.
A plasteline clay figure, of a shellshocked soldier, was hoisted off its mounting by a small, hand-operated crane.
Then, as Howard supervised — and held his breath — assistants Charlie Mostow (himself a sculptor), Amari Stephen, Matthew Todorov and Ricky Zambrano (all artists' models) gently, gently maneuvered the piece into place as part of what will be a 58-foot-long, 10-foot high tableau, with 38 figures.
"A Soldier's Journey," it's called — America's World War I monument, set to be unveiled in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., in May 2024.
One false move, and the clay figure he's spent 1,500 hours sculpting in his Englewood studio could crack. For a sculptor, that's a disaster equivalent to Gallipoli, or the Somme.
"I'm going into battle," Howard said. "It's a critical moment. If I lose a sculpture, it's a tragedy."
How went the day? Victory — this time.
"Hold it," said Mostow, as the team fitted the soldier figure into place among a grouping of other figures that included a screaming soldier pinioned in the arms of a nurse, and two buddies arm in arm trudging through the mire.
As the team jockeyed the figure into his position, Howard's wife, Traci L. Slatton, an author and filmmaker, and producer Kathleen Glynn captured it all on camera for a documentary they are titling "Heroic: Sabin Howard sculpts the National World War I Memorial."
"Good, no damage," Mostow said, as the figure was clamped into place.
Legion established burial site for WWI vets at Bloomington's Park Hill Cemetery
By Candace Summers
via The Pantagraph newspaper (IL) web site
Most cemeteries have designated sections for the burial of military veterans. For example, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery has four such sections (one dedicated for the Civil War, one for the Civil War and Spanish American War, one predominantly for Black veterans of 20th century conflicts, and the U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers Veterans Field dedicated in 2017).
At Park Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, the Louis E. Davis Post 56 of the American Legion in Bloomington has such a designated section for the burial of members of their organization. This section was created out of a need and desire for a specific burial plot for veterans of the Great War (today known as World War I).
In early 1919 McLean County acquired a plot containing 96 lots in Park Hill Cemetery for the express purpose of burying indigent soldiers and sailors of the war.
Immediately after the purchase, the privately founded Bloomington Cemetery Association filed notice with the county clerk that it was “an unlawful exercise of authority by the County to purchase a burial tract or tracts in Park Hill.” Furthermore, the association asserted that because it “tenders to the County of McLean free of charge all the space needed to bury indigent soldiers of the current war,” it also is a waste of taxpayer money for a new plot to be created at Park Hill.
Thus, a restraining order was issued against the county clerk and treasurer to stop payment for the soldiers’ plot at Park Hill.
In 1922, after a three-year legal battle, the members of Post 56 brought a proposal to the Bloomington City Commission that their organization would instead purchase a tract of land at Park Hill so their fallen comrades would have a permanent final resting place. Once the commission approved, Post 56 began a fundraising campaign to raise the $2,400 (about $42,000 in 2022 dollars) needed to purchase the land.
Post 56 held fundraising events and placed ads in The Pantagraph encouraging citizens to send in $1 or more (if they could) to help. One such ad pointed out that “soldiers of other wars have a burial place in Bloomington, even paupers have a place, but there is really not a place for World War soldiers to be buried.”
Help restore the trees at the 316th Monument above Sivry-sur-Meuse
By Eric Mueller
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
In early November of 1918, the America Expeditionary Force was pushing the Germans back all along the lines in the Meuse Argonne region. Still, there were formidable obstacles to be overcome, one of them being Hill 378. This bald hilltop on the east side of the Meuse River is named La Borne de Cornouiller, but the Doughboys referred to it as “Corn Willy Hill”. Looming over the village of Sivry-sur-Meuse, this vantage point allowed German observers and artillery to rain shells over a large portion of the Meuse Argonne battlefield. This objective had to be captured, and that task fell to the men of the 316th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division.
After moving into position on November 3, the Americans attacked at 6:00 a.m. November 4 with two battalions. They were met with furious resistance from German machine guns and trench mortars. Much of the forest on the lower parts of the hill had been previously destroyed by artillery fire, so there was little cover as our boys clawed their way up against a well-entrenched and concealed enemy. Throughout the day the fighting raged, at times hand-to-hand. In the afternoon, the Americans captured a trench line near the summit, only to be pushed back by a German counterattack. By nightfall, the men of the 316th held a line approximately 200 meters below the top.
The attack was ordered to resume on November 5. Starting at dawn, the Americans attacked and were counterattacked. By the end of the day, some ground had been gained, but the summit remained in enemy hands. On the morning of November 6 the attack resumed, and this time, the Americans would not be denied. By the afternoon, they had driven the Germans from their positions, secured the crest of the hill, and neutralized this stronghold that had caused so many AEF casualties from the very beginning of the Meuse Argonne Offensive. In three days of bitter fighting, Hill 378 had been taken, but it came at a terrible cost. The slopes of “Corn Willy Hill” were strewn with the dead and wounded men of the 316th Regiment.
After the war, a wealthy veteran of the 316th decided to commission a monument to be built atop Hill 378. This was quite controversial, for General John Pershing, now the head of the newly formed American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), had decreed that there would be no monuments for any unit smaller than a division. To circumvent this, the wealthy veteran and the Mayor of Sivry-sur-Meuse arranged to have the monument erected on private land. Pershing was livid and tried repeatedly to stop the construction, including appealing directly to the President of France. Despite Pershing’s objections, the monument went up. There was also a trust fund established that would pay for the maintenance of the monument and its surrounding grounds.
For years, this hilltop has offered panoramic views of the battlefield, while also being an iconic monument to the men of the 316th who sacrificed so much in Sector 304, at Montfaucon, in the Troyon sector, and in the hills and ravines on the east side of the Meuse River. Unfortunately, things have taken a bad turn on “Corn Willy Hill”.
5 Unsung American Heroes of World War I
via the SOFREP web site
From a Rifleman who braved machine gun firing in the No Man’s Land to a solitary scout who took down dozens of enemy troops, meet these five unsung servicemen whose gallantry efforts during World War I deserve more praise.
Sgt. William Shemin
Serving as a Rifleman, Shemin was among the men who participated in the Aisne-Marne Offensive in 1918. On three separate occasions, he would leave the safety of his cover and bravely cross an open space of 150 yards to rescue wounded comrades trapped in No Man’s Land while exposing himself to heavy machine guns and rifle fire. He would do this heroic act repeatedly. For his courageous effort, Shemin would receive the second highest valor honor instead of the Medal of Honor because “he was a Jew,” according to Shemin’s daughter Elsie. Shemin died in 1973, and more than four decades later, the Rifleman would finally receive his well-deserved Medal of Honor awarded by President Barrack Obama to Elsie on June 2, 2015.
Sgt. William Henry Johnson
Like Shemin, Johnson received his Medal of Honor award a hundred years later. Then-Private, Johnson showed fearlessness in hand-to-hand combat against enemy soldiers on the front lines of the Western Front in France. According to his official citation, Johnson and another soldier were on duty at a forward outpost when at least 12 German soldiers raided them. Shrugging off his critical wounds, Johnson fought tooth-and-nail not just to secure the front but also to save his comrade who was being captured by the enemy, sustaining 21 combat injuries. He couldn’t work after the war due to his injuries; by 1929, he would eventually pass away. Johnson became one of the first Americans to receive the French Croix de Guerre Avec Palme for his valiant action. He was initially denied a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross awards by the U.S. Army but eventually received them posthumously in June 1996 and February 2003, respectively. Alongside Shemin, Johnson received his Medal of Honor on June 2, 2015, which will be added to his tombstone.
Sgt. Maj. Daniel Joseph Daly
Daly is one of the nineteen service members who received the Medal of Honor twice, making him a legend among Marines. He first received one as a Private during the 1900 battle of Peking, China, and the second as a Gunnery Sargeant during the 1915 Haitian Campaign. Daly is also known for yelling, “Come on, you sons of b*tches, do you want to live forever?” before launching an attack on the Germans at the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. His undeniable courage had given the enemy troops hell as he fearlessly charged at a German machine gun nest, killed their commander, and took all 14 soldiers as prisoners—alone. That same day, he’d brave the notorious No Man’s Land to bring wounded Marines back to safety. These are just some of the stories of Daly’s exemplary gallantry in action. He died in 1937 at age 63.
WWI War Memorial, Library host ribbon cutting for anniversary
By Rebecca Young
via the Weston Democrat newspaper (WV) web site
Supporters, friends, staff, veterans and dignitaries attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lewis County War Memorial and Louis Bennett Jr. Public Library on Friday, August 26. The occasion marked the 100th anniversary of the memorial and library.
Following the death her son, Louis Bennett Jr., in WWI, Sallie Maxwell Bennett bestowed her family home and private library to Lewis County to live on in perpetuity as a war memorial and public library.
Sallie Maxwell Bennett wrote a letter to Weston City Council in 1918 and made a proposal for the city to take control of the property on Court Avenue, but the city refused her offer, according to Weston America Legion Post 4 Historian Dannie Gum.
“Weston Post 4 met with Sallie Bennett and then proceeded to go door to door in Lewis County, explaining what this war memorial and library would mean for the county. They received enough signatures to put the proposal on the ballot, and the citizens of Lewis County supported it wholeheartedly. The rest, as they say, is history,” Gum said in an earlier interview.
The house was donated to the Lewis County Commission and dedicated as the Lewis County War Memorial and Louis Bennett Public Library on Aug. 17, 1922. It is now home to the library, war memorial and American Legion Post 4 offices.
Lewis County Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Newbrough praised the library for its services offered to the public, especially children.
“The library is an amazing resource. I cant’ say enough good things about it,” he told guests.
State and federal officials commended the occasion, as well, as field representatives read letters of praise from US Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Alex Mooney. State delegate Adam Burkhammer was also present.
“To realize we still have this great historic library- I just want to thank all who made that happen,” Burkhammer said.
Verizon goes back to school with new immersive learning content, including the WWI Memorial "Virtual Explorer"
By Bernadette Brijlall
via the stockhouse.com web site
What you need to know:
- Verizon goes back to school with new immersive learning content across its award-winning Verizon Innovative Learning education initiative, aimed at driving digital equity and inclusion for teachers and students through a suite of programs and resources.
- New and existing partnerships with trusted education companies, edtech innovators and cultural institutions democratize access to new AR and VR apps and a series of integrated lesson plans across Verizon Innovative Learning.
- K-12 educators nationwide can access tech-driven content through Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, a free education portal that makes next-gen learning tools available to all.
- This fall, Verizon will add 50 new Title I schools and 50 new labs to Verizon Innovative Learning, which has reached over 1.5 million students since its launch in 2012.
- Available all year long on the network America relies on, teachers and students can save up to $25/mo on all 5G unlimited plans and access affordable deals on devices and accessories for back to school.
NEW YORK, Aug. 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As students head back to school, Verizon is continuing to bolster immersive learning content across its award-winning Verizon Innovative Learning education initiative, through a suite of programs and resources, aimed at driving digital equity and inclusion for teachers and students across the nation. Verizon’s impactful partnerships with trusted education companies, edtech innovators and cultural institutions enable educators to access new tech-driven lesson plans that utilize the power of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps in the classroom.
Launched in 2021, Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, an award-winning, free education portal that makes the next-gen learning tools of the overarching Verizon Innovative Learning initiative available to all K-12 educators nationwide, is unveiling even more immersive educational content, including AR and VR apps with accompanying lesson plans. The company is building on hundreds of lesson plans and 15 AR and VR apps currently available on the education portal by adding four additional apps and more lesson plans from partner organizations, all designed to increase student engagement and allow for an innovative approach to learning. Educators can also access extensive training and resources through the education portal, enabling them to teach students in new and engaging ways and to provide them with the skills they need to thrive in a digital-centric world.
The new integrated resources were designed to enable educators to integrate technology into the classroom in all subjects. New immersive content being released from new and existing partners within the 2022-2023 school year includes:
- Current Studios: The innovation studio known for specializing in AR, experience design and artificial intelligence - and which developed the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab Online app - has now designed four unique AR STEM career exploration challenges for high school students that will focus on areas such as Cybersecurity and Esports, as well as a paleontology-themed AR app where grades K-5 students can become virtual paleontologists. The studio is also relaunching the Career Day app, enabling students to unlock new potential career paths by engaging in interviews with accomplished STEM professionals, including those at Verizon, through AR.
- Discovery Education: Building off an existing collaboration with Verizon, the worldwide edtech leader developed new humanities-focused lesson plans, adding to its library of curriculum for the new AR experience - TimePod Adventures app. This AR experience developed for grades 3-12 allows them to virtually travel through time to visit Mars and examine the evolution of political systems and different types of government to make a recommendation as to how Mars should be governed once a community is established.
- Doughboy Foundation: The non-profit whose mission supports programs, projects and activities commemorating and educating about America’s role in World War I, created the WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer” AR app. It introduces a next generation of young adults to the transformational impact WWI had on America. History-based lesson plans focus on topics including WWI’s social impact on women, Native Americans, African Americans and all Americans, as the United States stepped onto the world stage as a global power for the first time in history.
National WWI Memorial honors Reams American Legion Post for 5 days
By Todd R. Hansen
via the Daily Republic newspaper (CA) web site
SUISUN CITY — Manuel E. Reams Jr. was a cattleman and former baseball player when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I.
Known affectionately as Mannie, he also picked up the nickname “Babe” during his semi-pro baseball career from 1910 to 1915 – a time in which George Herman “Babe” Ruth was making a name for himself as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Reams would attend St. Mary’s College, where he played baseball, football, basketball and ran track, and finished his education at Santa Clara College, also playing baseball there. He eventually gave up baseball, got married and moved to Santa Rosa to raise cattle and other livestock.
He was called into the war in 1917.
Reams was wounded in the Meuse-Angonne offensive, a 47-day battle along the western front that started Sept. 26, 1918, and continued until the Armistice was declared at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918.
Believed to have been killed, the Suisun City native was found wounded in a German dugout.
However, Reams would soon rejoin his unit in the Ypres (Flanders) region of Belgium and participated in the critical Ypres-Lys Offensive, believed by many war historians to have been the battle that led to the end of the war 12 days after the battle’s start.
But Reams did not see the end of the U.S.-British-Belgian-French offensive. He was killed Oct. 31, 1918, the first day of the battle, somewhere in a forest area near the town of Waereghem. He was 27.
Reams is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Fifteen months later, on the evening of Jan. 7, 1920, in the Odd Fellows Hall in Suisun City, 37 men who had served in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps during the Great War voted to create California American Legion Post 182 and named it after Reams.
That post, from Sept. 5-10, will be honored at 5 p.m. each evening with the playing of taps at the World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.
US Army SETAF-AF Soldiers share in remembrance of epic WWI battle to save Vicenza, Venice
via the U.S. Army's army.mil web site
Soldiers assigned to U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa joined members of the Italian Army, Aug. 28, near Gallio, Italy, to honor those who were killed in action during World War I while defending Vicenza and Venice, Italy.
Col. Frankie J. Cruz, 414th Contracting Support Brigade commander, and Lt. Col Fernando A. Franco, engineer plans officer for SETAF-AF, represented the U.S. Army at the event.
The Bersaglieri Brigade of the Italian Army celebrated its annual pilgrimage to Cima Valbella near Gallio, to honor the sacrifice of the Bersaglieri soldiers of the 5th and 14th Regiment in the 'Great War.' From December, 1917, to January, 1918, the Bersaglieri Brigade blocked a superior Austrian force from taking over Vicenza and the port of Venice.
"It was a true honor to attend and support this ceremony to celebrate the Bersaglieri and their positive impact during World War I," Cruz said. "I was highly impressed with the level of community support. [One of the] comments stuck with me from one of the older participants, as we hiked uphill he stated that all of his usual foot and back pain is completely gone as he reflects on challenges the Bersaglieri had to overcome during WWI."
During the battle, called Battaglie dei Tre Monti (Battle of the Three Mountains), 69 officers and 2,456 enlisted from the brigade died in the fighting. It is estimated the Austrians suffered twice the casualties.
To remember the battle, the Italian and U.S. soldiers hiked 40 minutes to the top of Mount Valbella. There they joined with a religious service attended by several hundred people. Scars from the battle are still visible with hundreds of craters and trench systems along the route.
Protecting our future by remembering our past
By Mackenzie Wolf
via the American Legion's Legion.org web site
Commissioner of the U.S. World War I (WWI) Centennial Commission, John D. Monahan, delivered remarks at The American Legion’s 103rd National Convention. A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army and member of American Legion Post 18 in Essex, Conn., Monahan spoke of the heroism and legacy of those who fought in the war.
“It was the war that changed the world,” he said. “They had been imbued with a fervor for service toward achieving a public good.
“They sought to channel this energy, enthusiasm and public spirit in ways that would strengthen the nation both physically and morally.”
That spirit led to the establishment of The American Legion and a lasting legacy of service.
Until recently, there was no memorial in the nation’s capital dedicated to the service and sacrifice of the 4.7 million Americans who answered the call to serve their country during WWI, including the 116,516 who gave their lives in service.
“Due to the generosity of The American Legion and other like-minded, patriotic and civic organizations…our World War I Memorial is now open to the public,” said Monahan.
The WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. was unveiled to the public for the first time in April 2021 — more than 100 years after the war ended and 10 years after America's last known World War I veteran, Cpl. Frank Buckles, died in 2011.
“Now we have a place to remember them,” Monahan said.
In a solemn tribute honoring the Americans who served in WWI, a lone bugler dressed in a WWI-period Doughboy uniform sounds Taps at the memorial every evening at 5 p.m. Taps is dedicated each evening to an individual, many of whom are Legionnaires, Monahan told the crowd.
The commission also developed mobile apps to aid visitors to the memorial, but also to allow those who have been unable to visit the site in person to experience the memorial through an augmented reality. The WWI Visitor Guide and Virtual Explorer apps allow people to interact with the stories and history of WWI in innovative ways. The apps can be found by searching “WWI Memorial” in Android or Apple app stores.
Deep dive into history: Iconic Battleship Texas is the last ship to survive both world wars
By Xavier Walton
via the KHOU television station (TX) web site
LA PORTE, Texas — Battleship Texas has a storied history as the last surviving battleship to serve in both World Wars, a source of pride for those who love it most.
"Battleship Texas is one of the most iconic things in Texas, the U.S., the world," Bruce Bramlett with the Battleship Texas Foundation told us. "Talking about the only surviving ship that served in WWI and WWII."
Now after calling the San Jacinto Battleground in La Porte home for more than seven decades, the iconic battleship is about to ship out for repairs before it is moved to its new home. The $35 million makeover will be done in Galveston after getting approval from state lawmakers in 2019.
"You know, I can only speak for me, I've always had a love of history," Bramlett said. "We don't have to forget our heroes and icons of history, and certainly the battleship Texas is one of them."
As the Battleship Texas tour guide, he took us on a journey back in time.
The old battleship was first launched in 1912. Five years later, it earned a niche in naval aviation history as the first American battleship to launch an aircraft and serve as a plane guard.
"The battleship Texas, at this time, was considered the finest ship in the Navy," Bramlett said. "You're looking again at a piece of history that was at just about every major battle of WWII. So, if she could talk, you'd go tell me the stories about being at D-day, North Africa, Iwo Jima."
An American museum returned to Greece a precious exhibit stolen by the WWI Bulgarian army
via The European Tiimes web site
It was seized from a Greek monastery during the First World War
The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which is working to restore trust by returning ill-gotten gains to its collection, returned a manuscript gospel that is more than 1,000 years old to the Greek Orthodox Church on Tuesday (23 August) after finding that it was looted from a Greek monastery during the First World War.
The museum said it returned the artifact, which its founders acquired at a Christie’s auction in 2011, to a representative of the Eastern Orthodox Church in a private ceremony in New York. The manuscript is due to be repatriated next month to the Kosinitsa monastery in northern Greece, where it was used in liturgical services for hundreds of years before it was stolen by Bulgarian forces in 1917.
The return is in line with the Museum of the Bible’s policy in recent years to investigate the provenance of its entire collection. After early acquisitions by its founders, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, it was found to include thousands of items looted from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The company paid US$3 million in 2017 to settle claims with the US government that it failed to exercise due diligence in the chaotic multi-million dollar international antiquities buying spree that began in 2009.
The Greek Orthodox Church said several other American institutions have turned up with artifacts looted from the same monastery.
The Museum of the Bible website traces the manuscript’s history and chain of ownership from its creation in the late 10th or early 11th century, through the sacking of the monastery in 1917, through various sales after the end of the war.
Missouri Marine among those who earned coveted title ‘Devil Dog’ during WWI battle
By Jeremy Amick
via the News Tribune newspaper (MO) web site
Roger Hager has long been a person of reflection, piecing together cross-sections of family and local history in an effort to acquire a better understanding of how military service shaped the lives of his ancestors.
Most recently, he has collected information regarding the World War I service of his late great uncle, who was among the brave Marines who earned the admired title of "Devil Dogs" in the historic Battle of Belleau Wood.
Willard Paul Gress was born in St. Thomas on Nov. 24, 1890. The 26-year-old was single and employed as a grocery clerk with L.O. Harris in Kansas City when he joined tens of thousands of young men from across the United States registering for the military draft on June 5, 1917.
"He chose to enlist in the United States Marine Corps in Kansas City on December 15, 1917," said Hager, when discussing his long-deceased great uncle. "It's interesting that he had to be re-examined because, at first, he was considered to be underweight -- a tall man who was only 143 pounds," he added.
Military records indicate the recruit was initially sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, to embark upon his training. While in camp, he received instruction in a variety of military skillsets that would be critical to his survival in the coming months.
"The course of instruction at Parris Island lasted eight weeks," noted a Marine Corps Recruit Depot History Book accessible through the U.S. Marine Corps website. "The first three weeks were devoted to instruction and practice of close order drill, physical exercise, swimming, bayonet fighting, personal combat, wall scaling and rope climbing."
During the fourth and fifth weeks of their World War I training cycle, the book said, recruits "perfected their drills, learned boxing and wrestling, and were taught interior guard duties," with the final three weeks being dedicated to refining their marksmanship skills.
Like many service members of the era, Gress took out a $10,000 insurance policy on Feb. 11, 1918, accepting the possibility that should his return to the states be inside a flag-draped coffin, his family would have the means to provide for his burial with funds remaining.
When his initial training completed on Feb 23, 1918, the new Marine was assigned to the 138th Company, 2nd Replacement Battalion in Quantico, Virginia. The following month, he boarded a troop ship bound for overseas service.
"There are records showing he was eventually assigned to the 78th Company, 2nd Battalion of the 6th Marine Regiment and embarked for overseas duty on March 14, 1918 at (League Island) Philadelphia," Hager said. "After arriving in France, they began a period of intense training," he added.
The Marine's mettle was soon tested in operations against enemy forces. As Gress explained in later years, the fighting was not the greatest challenge he endured in the war, since on many occasions he recalled going for three or four days without anything available for them to eat.
The Battle of Cantigny Forever Changed the US Military
By Samantha Franco
via the War History Online web site
The Battle of Cantigny was the first great American victory of the First World War. With a military that was under-trained and ill-prepared, a win on the global stage was necessary to prove the might of the United States. Cantigny was the first time during the conflict where the US military was forced to prove itself – and it didn’t disappoint.
The United States joins World War I
On April 6, 1917, under President Woodrow Wilson, the US declared its entry into World War I. Unfortunately, the country’s military was ill-prepared, and it would be more than a year before American troops actually made the trek overseas.
One American division sent to Europe was the 1st Infantry Division – better known as the “Big Red One.” It featured the US Army’s best-trained men and was led by Maj. Gen. John Pershing, who was in charge of leading the fight at Cantigny, in northern France. The town was chosen because of its importance as an observational post, and he’d sent over the division to show just how strong the US military was.
Knowing that a victory was needed to lift morale, Pershing employed a “combined arms” plan of attack, including specialized teams of tanks, infantry, artillery and other units. At the time the country entered WWI, the US Army consisted of just 127,000 soldiers, 67,000 federal National Guardsmen and 100,000 on the state level, making it equal to the likes of Portugal.
It was imperative the 1st Infantry Division employ this new plan of attack with precision to ensure victory.
US troops claim Cantigny
The Battle of Cantigny began on May 28, 1918, at around 6:30-6:40 AM. Supported by French troops, the US, under the command of Gen. Charles P. Summerall, began a mass bombing of the German lines, creating a smoke screen for cover. French tanks then began to press forward, with the US troops using them for additional cover while they charged forward on foot.