Mule Rearing Riveters pilots in dress uniforms The pilots gas masks African American Officers doughboys with mules African American Soldiers 1

California in WW1 - NOW



November 14, 2017 - Dr. Jonathan Roth - California Lutheran University

The Lundring Events Center, Thousand Oaks Campus 


By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force



a public reception of the

Library of America Oral History Project

with lecture presented by

Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.


On a typically brisk, but temperate California evening on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, Dr. Jonathan Roth - California Lutheran University addressed a large audience with a topic he is most capable to speak upon, the racial and ethic relationships, standards, and history of the Great War, or World War One.

The evening was kicked off with a public reception for the Library of America Oral History Project. The project gave those in attendance the opportunity to experience the oral histories of actual WWI veterans as told to their sons and daughters and transcribed by California Lutheran University History students. Local California descendants of WW1 veterans shared their ancestor's stories along with displaying photographs and documents pf the member's wartime encounters.

The program is part of World War I and America, a two-year national initiative of The Library of America presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and other organizations, with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities. It was the third activity of a three part series in association with the World War I and America project of the Library of Congress.

dr jonathan rothDr Roth gave insights on the wide ethnic field of participants in WW1, and the actual roles those people played in the war. It came as a surprise to many in the audience how far the war actually reached around the world and the many races involved. Dr. Roth pointed out how the war challenged social norms and established a new reality for the many races then under the rule of imperialism.

Read more: November 14, 2017 - Dr. Jonathan Roth - California Lutheran University



December 9, 2017 - Amber Waves of Grain Craft Beer Festival Funds Distribution Ceremonies

California WW1 Centennial Task Force is recognized for its efforts during the fundraiser/event at The Shops at Dos Lagos in Corona.

awog presents check  to task force co director bill betten resultOn December 9, 2017, just five weeks after the annual Amber Waves of Grain Festival, the festival coordinators invited the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to their annual Funds Distribution Ceremonies where all of the proceeds (over $26,000) were given out to veterans service 501(c)3 organizations that help our U.S. military veterans.

Amber Waves of Grain Beer Festival in Corona co-created by Bill Steinkirchner & George Brightenburg in Corona, CA, was designed as a time to celebrate all armed forces veterans. Their goal, "to come together and help those who have also served" is an honored effort applauded by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force.

The California WW1 Centennial Task Force was thanked for its participation and booth display, and was awarded a $100 portion of the funds raised from the festival. These monies helped to defray the costs of the Task Force's expenses in educating Californians of the centennial of WW1, and to commemorate those who served in that war 100 years ago.

co director betten addresses awog at funds distrib resultTask Force Co-Director Bill Betten addressed those assembled for the funds distribution ceremony and reminded all of the sacrifice Americans made 100 years ago in WW1. He asked everyone to remember, honor, and commemorate, as well as lend support the efforts of the United States WW1 Centennial Commission to construct a national monument on the Capitol Mall in Washington DC. Co-Director Betten and his wife Joni Betten were present to receive the check from the All American Riders/Blue Star Mothers, presented by Bill Steinkirchner.bill stienkirchner presents check  to cww1ctf co director result










January 17, 2018 - Bob Hope Patriotic Hall Hosts the American Legion GI Bill Exhibit

Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, Los Angeles, CA


gi bill exhibit boardsLos Angeles County's Bob Hope Patriotic Hall has welcomed to its elegant chambers a  multi-media exhibit honoring what has been called, "the organization’s most impactful legislative accomplishment," and with it, an educational opportunity for Southern Californians.

Supported by an American Legion grant, the exhibit, called "The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Centennial Salute to the GI Bill," began its journey ,and objective to educate, at its debut in June of 2017, at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The presentation here in California was kicked off by a public reception and moderated panel discussion at the historic home of the Los Angeles County Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall at 1816 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. The reception included officials and officers of the American Legion such as American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones, past American Legion national commander and chairman of The American Legion's 100th Anniversary Observance Committee David Rehbein, and American Legion California Department Commander Robert Heinisch.rehbein betten keene at patriotic hall 1 17 18David Rehbein chats with Bill Betten, co-director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force (center,) and Dr. Jennifer Keene, chair of the Chapman University Department of History, and keynote speaker at the exhibit reception at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall.

Following the reception, in her keynote address, author and distinguished scholar of World War I history, Dr. Jennifer Keene of Chapman University,  pointed to the GI Bill as one of the most significant accomplishments achieved by veterans of the First World War, who drafted the original bill. She explained how the veterans fought through critics, Congress ,and even bad weather to make the measure a reality. Dr. Keene is president of the Society of Military History, and is a master scholar chosen by the United States World War One Centennial Commission to provide professional training for educators about the First World War's place in history.

Read more: January 17, 2018 - Bob Hope Patriotic Hall Hosts American Legion GI Bill Exhibit



January 18, 2018 - Re-dedication of Memorial Isle in Los Angeles


phil dye courtland jindra bill betten 1 18 2018Re-enactor Phil Dye, and California WW1 Task Force Co-Directors Courtland Jindra and Bill Betten stand before the rededicated Memorial Isle monument at the intersection of La Brea and Adams in Los Angeles.After the American Legion Jackie Robinson Post 252 responded to local community concerns about the condition of the WW1 monument on the traffic island at the corner of La brea and Adams, a  rededication ceremony was held at the monument at the intersection.

As California continues to commemorate the centennial of the Great War, the California WW1 Centennial Task Force sheds light on one of Los Angeles's many overlooked tributes to the conflict.

On Thursday, January 18th at 2:00 in the afternoon, The California World War Centennial Task Force, the Office of the Council President Herb Wesson, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Jackie Robinson Post 252 of the American Legion all meton the triangular shaped island at the intersection of the historic Los Angeles avenues to rededicate "Memorial Isle."

Read more: January 18, 2018 - Re-dedication of Memorial Isle in Los Angeles



March 27, 2018 - Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero - The World Premiere

Regal LA Live 14, Los Angeles


by Bill Betten, Co-Director California WW1 Centennial Task Force


sgt stubby marquee regal la live theater resultMarquee of the Regal's LA LIVE Barco Innovation Center in L.A. at the Sgt. Stubby premier.



Although the typical, dramatic searchlights out front were not there, in classic Hollywood fashion the Redbill betten on red carpet resultCalif. WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten on the "Red Carpet" at the Sgt. Stubby premier. Carpet was rolled out, the reception rooms decorated, the pre-viewing party food and drinks were in place, introductions and speeches of honored guests planned, and the viewing theater had been properly prepared. Another film debut in Los Angeles was about to start and I and my wife had been invited to the premier. We were to join the "celebrities" on display that night, and I wondered who we would meet. As one of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force Managing Board members invited to attend the March 27, 2018, world premiere of the animated film Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, I did not really know what to expect of the film, though I was somewhat familiar with the Sgt. Stubby story.

commissioner zoe dunning sgt stubby premiere resultUS WW1 Centennial Commissioner Zoe Dunning at Sgt. Stubby premiere


As was expected, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, retells the truejoni on the red carpet resultBill's wife Joni Betten on the Sgt. Stubby "Red Carpet." story of the most decorated American canine of WW1, and all U.S. military history for that matter. But, what was unexpected was what the film delivered.

Alongside California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra, I was joined by national Commissioner Zoe Dunning, and Chief Technologist and national Program Manager Theo Mayer to walk the "red carpet" and represent the WW1 Centennial Commission at the world premiere in Los Angeles.

The Pre-viewing reception area, decorated with a WW1 semblance of full-scale French towns and battlefield trenches set the background environment that was enhanced by colorful posters from scenes from the movie, actual WW1 artifacts, and a larger than life-sized ice sculpture of the star of the movie, Sgt. Stubby.


bill betten & michael hjelmstad  amer leg post 43 resultBill Betten & Commander Michael Hjelmstad of American Legion Post 43 of Hollywood stand before a set scene display from the movie Sgt. Stubby exhibiting actual gas equipment from WW1. Michael is also a writer, producer, and motion picture and television liaison.But, soon we found that the real celebrities who drewcourtland & melissa resultCalif. WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra and his date Melissa Angert pose on the Sgt. Stubby "Red Carpet." the most attention were to sit in the audience. They were the hundreds of children invited to the viewing by the producers and Variety –The Children’s Charity of Southern California. Co-hosted by Fun Academy Motion Pictures the premiere witnessed the great number of kids from the local Variety Boys & Girls Clubs.

Although the children were the last to arrive on buses, and never were allowed to venture upstairs where the adult refreshments were being served, they did pass through the amusement park-like setting, shake hands with a walking Sgt. Stubby, and get a free popcorn and memento before being brought directly into the theater.

Eagerly the children all took their seats on the ground floor of the theater. The director of the film, Richard Lanni, stepped out to introduce cast members, and of course when the voice of Sgt, Stubby's owner in the film, Logan Lerman (The Vanishing of Sidney Hall [2017,] Fury [2014,] and the Percy Jackson franchise,) walked updirector richard lanni with reenactor damian stellabott resultSgt. Stubby Director Richard Lanni with WW1 re-enactor Damian Stellabott. onstage the audience exploded. Their excitement and enthusiasm was to make for a wonderful showing of the feature film.

The horror of war is a very difficult issue to share with young children, while still making it interesting enough for older audiences as well, but upon viewing the film I found that the producers have succeeded in doing just that. Additionally, they have offered classroom teachers a way to address the topic in a manner any school districtjoni betten & stubby ice scuplture resultThe giant Sgt. Stubby ice sculpture was a treat all wished their photo to be taken with, including Bill's wife Joni. or school board can accept. As a retired teacher with over three decades experience in the elementary classroom and now, a grandparent, I was very impressed with the possibilities of using this film in the school, and at home.

Sgt. Stubby was based upon the true story of an American military canine, the real Sgt. Stubby of the 26th "Yankee" Division. As the story tells, he joined the YD's, 102nd Infantry Regiment, composed entirely of National Guard units, as a stray in New England. This brave division was the first reserve component to see action in World War I.

I was not the only audience member at Regal's LA LIVE Barco Innovation Center in L.A. thrilled with the Sgt. Stubby film. Patrons young and old at the typically posh début freely declared their approval, and on its website Variety reported, "...the film is sufficiently intelligent and entertaining to engage most grown-ups and, no kidding, fascinate history buffs."producer jodan beck & wife janis resultSgt. Stubby producer Jordan Beck & wife Janis at the premier reception.

Logan Lerman, as the voice of Stubby's adopted master, Pvt. Robert Conroy did a superb job, as did Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter franchise, the Alice in Wonderland franchise, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [2007].) She stars as the narrating voice of Margaret Conroy. With his trademark French buoyancy, Gerard Depardieu of The Life of Pi [2012,] The Man in the Iron Mask [1998,] and Cyrano de Bergerac [1990,] stars as the jovial poilu, Gaston Baptiste.

director & editor resultSgt. Stubby director, Richard Lanni & the film's editor, Mark Solomon, talk with invited guests.Director, co-writer, and producer, Richard Lanni, a native of Ireland, was readily on hand to greet guests and answer questions about the making of the film, as were co-producers and a crew presenting a variety of accents demonstrating the film's transnational sponsorship.

For example the music for Sgt. Stubby, an original score, was composed by Scottish film composer and Academy Award nominee Patrick Doyle (Murder on the Orient Express [2017,] Thor [2011,] Rise of the Planet of the Apes [2011,] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [2005,].) The excellent score was verycomposer patrick doyle &  reenactor damian stellabott resultComposer Patrick Doyle & WW1 re-enactor Damian Stellabott pose together. Doyle's score for Sgt. Stubby added just what the film needed. much inline with the story, and I personally had to compliment Doyle for the work. I told him that all too often the music of a film destroys the "fourth wall," (leaving the audience's mind to muddle around in the orchestra pit, sometimes getting lost there.) Mr, Doyle expressed appreciation for the observation.

Though the real Sgt. Stubby was an American, he was a hero to many nations, so it is only fitting that the film of his life is played by a global cast supported by an international crew. Pre- and post-production was done in Paris, France; animation production in Montreal, Canada; Foley art and sound effects were recorded in Cornwall, United Kingdom; while voice-over recordings were made in Santa Monica, California; Columbus, Georgia; London, England; and Paris, France.

My fellow Task Force Co-Director, Courtland Jundra, commented that, “It was especially good to find how historically accurate it was.” Though I personally questioned one particularly unbelievable depiction, that of Stubby saluting, it appears that really did occur. According to Curt Deane, grandson of J. Robert Conroy, Stubby's real adopted owner one hundred years ago, the dog did impress officers with his ability to salute, a trick which Private Conroy taught him.

Commissioner Dunning of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission also pointed out the accuracy of the film adding that, "The graphics were very well done."

The film opens this Friday to the general public and the California WW1 Centennial Task Force encourages all to take the time to see it.

In theaters April 13, 2018

Learn more at http://www.stubbymovie.com



April 5, 2018  - The SECOND 50: Final 100 Cities/100 Memorial Grant Recipients Named

100 Cities / 100 Memorial matching grant challenge Awardees are Announced in Chicago


By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


One hundred years ago today was not a high time for America and her Allies. In fact, the Germans had just made the deepest incursions into France since the beginning of WW1. Now the English and the French were pleading with, and threatening the American Commander in Chief, General Pershing to give them his troops to throw at the enemy, though he insisted they had not had enough training. Back in America, it was the first month of the dreaded Spanish Flu epidemic and individual figures on deaths already were shocking. While still more ships were being sunk by subs though, Americans bravely boarded them to stop the enemy “Over There!”

We remember the victory, but do we today recall the true sacrifices made to “Win the War?” To help us do that, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library announced today the final 50 WW1 Memorials to be awarded grants and honored with the official national designation as "WW1 Centennial Memorials".

The 100 Cities/100 Memorials matching grant challenge was designed to remind America of those tough times, and to recall who had paid the price. The grants from the Commission are to help community groups restore and re-place in the public mind local World War I memorials, while commemorating the centennial of WW1.

 A total of $200,000 has been allocated for grants that will assist in the physical work and materials for the memorials’ renovations so that all across America the people not forget.  Each awardee will receive $2,000.

Joining the first four California Awardees (see our article of September 27, 2019) are the War Memorial Veterans Building and Opera House, San Francisco, CA , the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA, the Santa Monica Memorial Open Air Theater/Memorial Bronze Plaque, Santa Monica, CA, and the Albert Harry Bode Gravesite in Jackson, CA,


Following are the California 100 Cities / 100 Memorial matching grant challenge Awardees. To view the entire list of awardees visit https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/100-cities-100-memorials-home.html

California recipients of the official designation of “U.S. World War I Centennial Memorial

Name of Memorial

Organization /Team



Albert Harry Bode Gravesite

Sierra Amador Chapter NSDAR



Berkeley World War I Commemorative Plaques

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project



Carmel-by-the-Sea World War I Memorial Arch

American Legion Post 512



Chinese Americans War Memorial

VFW Post 4618 & American Legion, Cathay Post #384 & SF Recreation & Parks Department

San Francisco


Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission

Los Angeles


Memorial Tablet at Victory Memorial Grove

Los Angeles - Eschscholtzia Daughters of the American Revolution, American Legion Post 43, Disney Salutes, LA City Council District 10, City of LA Dept. of Recr. and Parks and more...

Los Angeles


Santa Monica Memorial Open Air Theater

Sons of the American Legion Squadron 283, Pacific Palisades, CA

Santa Monica


War Memorial Veterans Building and Opera House

City of San Francisco

San Francisco





California WW1 Centennial Task Force


Managing Board Co-Directors

Bill Betten
Sal Compagno
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Hugh E. Crooks, Jr.
Mike Hanlon
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.)
Prof. Jennifer Keene, Ph.D
Courtland Jindra
Dennis Matarrese
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Anthony Powell
Lester Probst
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.
Col. Fred Rutledge 

Northern California Committee

Sal Compagno
Mike Hanlon
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Nielsen
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)

Anthony Powell
Col. Fred Rutledge
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.

Southern California Committee

Bill Betten
Maria Carrillo
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.) 
Courtland Jindra
Lester Probst
Jeff Sharp

 Education Committee

Bill Betten, Master of Arts in Education, (Retired teacher DUSD, OUSD, AGUSD)
Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture at Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Scott Corbett, Ph.D, Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Chapman University
Michael Powelson, Ph.D., Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jonathan Roth, Ph.D., Professor of History, SJSU, Burdick Military History Project Director [Committee Chair]
Miriam Raub Vivian, Ph.D.,  Professor of History, CSUB

Website Administrator

Bill Betten


Email: [email protected]

Snail Mail:
     California World War 1Centennial Task Force
     330 Myrtlewood Dr.
     Calimesa, CA 92320


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