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

California in WW1 - NOW



May 5, 2018 - Arcadia WW1 History Symposium

Ross Field - Arcadia WW1 Balloon School – 100 Years


by Joni Joy Betten


the gilb museum of arcadia heritage resultThe Gilb Museum of Arcadia HeritageIf you haven’t ever visited Arcadia, you should add it to your bucket list. It is a beautiful community with an amazing amount of interesting history. It is the home of the Santa Anita Race Track, which in itself has its own bucket-load of history. Arcadia has lots of green parks which all seem to have their own flock of peacocks, (another Arcadia history story.)

But my husband and I were not in Arcadia just to enjoy the scenery that May 5th, 2018.

The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage was presenting a history symposium celebrating the old military base named Ross Field, a WW1 Balloon School. My husband Bill Betten, a Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force was one of the keynote speakers.

The Gilb Museum sits on a large piece of property which also houses several city buildings and the recreation department surrounded by a huge park. All this land was once part of the Balloon School.

ross field ww1 balloon schoolRoss Field Balloon School during WW1.You ask what is a balloon school? Well 100 years ago, back before remote controlled drones, when the United States entered the Great War, the US Army began teaching men how to operate large hot air balloons in order to scout out the enemy’s whereabouts.

I learned these interesting facts from Mark Rosenblum, another presenter at the symposium, who is a local Arcadia historian. He has tediously collected many fascinating details about the Balloon School that are even unknown to most citizens of Arcadia.

He informed us that the field was named later after the one U.S. Army balloon pilot who died in the war in France, Lt. Cleo J. Ross, an observer with the 8th Balloon Company.

task force co director bill bettenThe symposium began that morning with a welcome by Dr. Dana Hicks. the curator of the museum. She then introduced my husband Bill who started off the symposium with a talk entitled, “From This Land to No-Man’s-Land: War Like We Have Never Seen, Nor Will Ever See Again”. This was a very interesting overview of the war, spotlighting much of the changes in technology that put generals in a tailspin, not knowing quite how to fight and overcome all these new weapons of destruction. Attrition took the lives of millions of men, and those who didn’t die were forever affected by the many horrors they had to face. (You can find his presentation here.)

After this, Mr. Rosenblum presented his lecture, “Rediscovering Ross Field: The Balloon School a Century Later.” I could tell this topic is one he is very passionate about.

jack mccrea arcadia heritageHistorian Jack McCrea in the Archives of the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage.Winding up the symposium, Jack McCrea, another local historian, and Dr. Hicks presented an amazing assortment of original photographs from the museum’s permanent collection. Their presentation of these images brought to life the men of the Balloon School from 100 years ago. It was an eerie feeling knowing that where we sat was right in the middle of where these pictures were taken.

dana hicks arcadia heritageDr. Dana Hicks- Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage Curator at work in the archives.They also explained that before any of these men made it to France though, the war ended.

After the presentations, the Acadia Heritage Group offered a wonderful lunch out on the patio, where we could all socialize and ask further questions of the speakers. We also enjoyed a tour of the museum. It made for a wonderful day where I came home feeling like I had truly learned what some of those who went before us here in California had done to keep our state and country secure.



 Joni Joy Betten is a guest author for the California WW1 Centennial Task Force and Granddaughter of a WW1 Veteran.joni betten 2018 result








May 28, 2018 - Los Angeles 2018 Memorial Day Ceremony

 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum


320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

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


6 welcoming the audience resultAl Naipo Interm CAO of the LA Memorial Coliseum welcomes the audience to the Memorial Day commemoration.One hundred years ago there was not a commemoration known as Memorial Day on May 28th. Officially, Memorial Day had fallen every year on May 30th from its origin in 1868 until 1970. In 1968, Congress had passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and this went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day as a federal holiday. Thus, our event focusing upon the Great War, held at the largest World War One memorial in California, fell upon a very warm and clear day providing an excellent situation for a commemoration.1 l a county fire department honor guard resultThe LA County Fire Department Honor Guard ready to present the colors.


This year's Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum World War 1 Memorial Day ceremony took advantage of the Coliseum's long history of being Los Angeles's premier monument dedicated to remembering those who served and sacrificed so much one hundred years ago. In fact, the commemoration coordinator and producer, California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra, could not have been more pleased.

2 colorguard advance result

Set upon the entrance of the Memorial Coliseum before the historic Coliseum peristyle, the Memorial Day commemoration stage sat below the heroic propylaeum, or triumphal arch. This houses the two Memorial Court of Honor plaques dedicated to the veterans of World War I. The first plaque honoring Los Angeles County WW1 veterans was set in place when the Coliseum was commissioned in 1921 as a memorial to Los Angeles veterans of the Great War. In 1968, it was rededicated to all veterans of the Great War.3 singing the national anthem resultHumberto Aguirca sings the national anthem.


The ceremony started fittingly with the presentation of the colors by the stunning Los Angeles County Fire Department Honor Guard. The afternoon's emcee was Mr. Al Naipo, the Interim Chief Administrative Officer of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission1. Mr. Napio took the dais and asked for all to stand for the presentation of the colors.  4 the audience salutes result


The honor guard advanced in snappy fashion, and then the audience was awarded the opportunity to hear a gallant rendition of the National Anthem by Humberto Aguirca, fire fighter/paramedic, Los Angeles County. The song was brilliantly sung as all proudly stood and gave their salute. The Los Angeles County Fire Department Honor Guard is a non-profit organization that proudly serves the community and honors the fallen within their department and7 kuren price jr resultBelow the main arch Councilmember Curren Price Jr. addresses those gathered on Memorial Day. other agencies.

Read more: May 28, 2018 - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 2018 Memorial Day Ceremony



May 28, 2018 - Memorial Day Event, Rainbow Division Memorial Grove

Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California


rainbow memorial grove monument 20182018 lt col roldan reads commemorationLt. Col. Roldan reads the commemoration at the 2018 re-dedication of the Rainbow Division WW1 Monument.


On this Memorial Day of 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, a small event was conducted at the Rainbow Division Memorial in Exposition Park in remembrance of the American Soldiers who served under the Rainbow Division during WWI.

 As there were other Armistice Centennial Events occurring in California many of the usual attendees were busy elsewhere. This included members of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force. Mr. Jim Davis and Mr. David Cohen who are2018 lt col roldan salutes monumentLt. Col Roldan salutes those who have fallen. customarily in attendance were also unable to do so.  However, the family of Mr. Davis did attend. Acting as Master of Ceremonies was Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Roldan of the 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, US Army National Guard, who also had the honor of presenting the Commemoration Wreath which The Rainbow Division Association New York Chapter donated funds for.  The Wreath was moved to the LA Memorial Coliseum for their Memorial Coliseum Memorial Day Event. Lt. Col. Roldan requested that recognition be given to Johnny Huynh of the California Floral Company at californiafloralco.com for the wreath.2018 davis family and roldan and monument2018 - The Jim Davis family and Lt. Col. Roldan at the Rainbow Division Monument in Exposition Park, Los Angeles.

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May 28, 2018 - Montclair Community Action Committee's 2018 Memorial Day Ceremony

 Montclair City Hall Complex, Montclair, California


320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.



2018 montclair mem day audience resultThe time-honored tradition of proudly commemorating Memorial Day in the City of Montclair was repeated this year with ceremonies that, as usual, included the recognition of new names added to their Veterans’ Memorial Wall at their Memorial Garden adjacent to Montclair’s City Hall. The citizens of Montclair recall the outstanding courage and commitment of their native sons and daughters who displayed “outstanding courage and commitment to freedom,” as their full-color program states. “We are thankful for fine Americans who have given so much2018 wreath montclair memorial day result to our great country.”

But, recognizing the centennial of WW1 for the second year in a row, the city invited the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to join them in their Memorial Day commemoration to acknowledge and honor those who served 100 years ago in WW1. In their usual fashion, typical of the city’s past praiseworthy commemorations, the Montclair Community Action Commission along with the Montclair City Council produced a commendable Memorial Day Program for May 29, 2018.

One again the Community Action Commission’s2018 mc montclair mem day resultLaurie Milhiser emcees the 2018 Montclair Memorial Day program. Chairperson, Laurie Milhiser, announced the opening of the program. Pastor Joe McTarsney of Calvary Montclair Church offered an invocation and the Montclair High School’s Junior ROTC presented the colors. Sergent First Class John Bell, of the U.S. Army Reserve, led assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Dudes of Four Tunes, a barbershop quartet, then sang the “National Anthem” in their customarily delightful harmony. Laurie Milhiser then welcomed and thanked all for attending, and introduced Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Raft who in her address acknowledged the passing of prior mayor Paul M. Eaton, and his many years of service.

2018 walkers choral group montclair mem day resultThe Walkers Choral Group of Montclair sings on Memorial Day 2018.The Montclair Walkers Choral Group then sang a collection of patriotic songs. The ensemble consists of senior voices from throughout the city, and were trimly attired in their smart red and white outfits.


bill betten montclair memorial day 2018Montclair's Memorial Day keynote speaker was California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten.The keynote address was then delivered by Bill Betten, Co-Director of the WW1 Centennial Task Force. Bill spoke briefly on the history of Memorial Day before reminding the audience how the American Doughboys of WW1 turned the tide of the Allied retreat at a town called Château-Thierry and in Bellau Wood. He explained how they stopped the German advance at the River Marne, and then routed the German Army in the Meuse-Argonne, but not until after many paid the ultimate price. Co-Director Betten explained how his own grandfather “witnessed the terror of the submarine threat on the open seas, saw the havoc wrought by wicked machine gun fire, cringed bill betten speaking at 2018 montclair memorial dayThe audience smiles at Co-Director Bill Betten's reference that though most joined to fight, some of the recruits joined just for the chance to "get off the farm."and recoiled from the constant deadly artillery, prayed against the mangling strike of the deadly German Mauser rifle, and gagged in the agony of poisonous gas. All these took the lives of his buddies next to him, as a daily routine.”

Read more: May 28, 2018 - Montclair Community Action Committee's 2018 Memorial Day Ceremony



June 14, 2018 - Flag Day Event, Dedication of Restored Flagpole at Los Angeles WW1 Memorial

Elysian Park, Victory Grove, Los Angeles, CA

320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.


As the centennial presses onward, renovation of the WW1 Monument at Los Angeles’ Victory Memorial Grove progresses. The project director, Courtland Jindra, here recaps and reports on the next phase of restoration, that of re-landscaping, and repairing the flagpole.




first flag being raised on the new pole by l a e d a r member kim jindraFirst U.S. flag raising on the site's newly repaired pole by Los Angeles Eschscholtzia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution member Kim Jindra, assisted by Melissa Angert

Flag Day 2018 at Victory Memorial Grove


by Courtland Jindra, California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director

Last year I wrote two articles for the Roads to the Great War Blog on efforts to bring back Victory Memorial Grove in Los Angeles. (See http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-centennial-at-grass-roots-restoring.html and http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-centennial-at-grass-roots-restoring_26.html)

Courtland Jindra Welcoming GuestsCourtland Jindra welcomes distinguished guests and dignitaries.Shortly thereafter our project was chosen among the first 50 awardees of the National WWI Centennial Commission's 100 Cities/100 Memorials grant program. This allowed some of the money that had been spent by Los Angeles-Eschscholtzia Chapter of DAR (LAE-DAR) to go back in their coffers. I am currently advocating they set up a permanent maintenance fund so work can be done on the monument every few years to keep it in tip top shape. Meanwhile discussions revolved around what to work on next.

Jan Gordon of the Los Angeles Eschscholtzia Chapter of the Daughters of the American RevolutionJan Gordon of the Los Angeles Eschscholtzia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution

Unfortunately June is after prime planting season has ended in southern California. Unsurprisingly as the months wore on most of these first plants died. Though this was anticipated, we were somewhat disappointed. Shortly talk revolved around having another planting event in the late fall or winter. Because of the various schedules of participants, and the holidays, January 20th was finally agreed to. As they had the previous Spring, Hollywood Post 43 of the American Legion helped co-ordinate with the Mission Continues and Disney Salute to have a nice group of volunteers on site. City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell attended and even was out there rolling up his sleeves, digging holes with everyone else. Also present were a couple of representatives from the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park, which is a local organization concerned with thePhilip Murphy of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian ParkPhilip Murphy of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park welfare and preservation of the whole of Elysian Park. My first run with themGuests Standing to recognize the flag.Guests Standing to recognize the flag. had been in the months leading up to the re-dedication and they seemed dubious at best about the project, but after attending the 2017 ceremony more individuals within the organization began to believe. This round of plantings has had a much better success rate with over half surviving to date.

Read more: June 14, 2018 - Flag Day Event, Dedication of Restored Flagpole WW1 Memorial



October 1-2, 2018 - TO HONOR & REMEMBER

Recognizing the Contributions Across the United States of America in Honoring the Centennial of World War One


pritzker conference title slide oct2018The United States World War One Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library cordially invited each of the states to sendcodirector bill bettenCo-Director Bill Betten, of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force, represented the state at the conference in Chicago. representatives to Chicago, Illinois to attend an event recognizing the contributions these members had made in commemorating the Centennial of World War One. Under overcast, but balmy skies for a Californian, (Chicago even offered up one brief shower for this parched Californian,)  the Commission and Pritzker Military Museum dignitaries gathered to recognize the contributions of states across the country, and to honor the centennial of World War One state organizations.

kc picard idaho jim hodgson texas 9302018 in chicago resultDelegates KC Picard of Idaho and Jim Hodgson of Texas relax on the eve of the conference as our California delegate, Bill Betten, snaps a photo of them in the Union League Club of Chicago.This special occasion began the evening of Sunday September 30, 2018 with a reception of the delegations at the Union League of Chicago, a prominent social club located in the heart of downtown Chicago, whose history stems from the service of Civil War veterans of the Union Army. Here most delegates, commissioners, and staff lodged as guests for the event. The Union League has a long tradition of supporting the men and frank krone kc picard idaho 9302018 in chicago resultIdaho State Commissioner Frank Krone poses with fellow Idaho Delegate Picard for Bill Betten while chatting about state events over the last few years.women and their families who serve our country putting their lives on the line so we can enjoy the freedoms of America.


At the reception delegations from the different states attending could meet, most for the first time, face-to-face. All appreciated the opportunity to speak to each other, as well as members of the staff of the US World War One Commission. Of special honor was the chance to get acquainted with the US WW1 Centennial Commissioners themselves. Even Commission Chairman Terry Hamby was there to welcome and personally add his exceptional "Kentuckian charm" to the evening.


On the following day, Monday October 1, 2018, attendees were transported across downtown Chicago to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library which hosted the rest of the events. They made sure that a very satisfying continental breakfast was provided.. At the museum, Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.), herself welcomed the delegates, susan mennenga col jennifer pritzker pmml bill betten california resultAs breakfast was served, California Co-Director Bill Betten (right) posed with host and Pritzker Military Museum and Library founder, Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker (center,) and the museum's WW1 Centennial Project Manager, Susan Menninga (left.)and in honor of the convening of leadership of World War One commemorative organizations, opened the Museum early to the commissioners and delegates to view the exhibits which included many of her own personal collection, as well as the Lest We Forget: Sailors, Sammies and Doughboys Over There in World War I Exhibition. In a special gesture, unique artifacts from the collection were put on display especially for the occasion. Colonel Pritzker explained she had purchased the historic Monroe Building (built in 1912) with the idea in mind to renovate it, and found the military museum and library. They have assembled a collection of books and related materials on military history, with a particular focus on the concept of the Citizen Soldier in America. Today, building upon that foundation through the generosity of private donors, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library takes up three of the Monroe Building's sixteen floors and has become a non-partisan museum and library that attempts to increase the public understanding of military history and the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served. These include the Pritzker family which holds a long history of military service.col tom moe ww1cc bill betten california at pmml resultBill Betten was honored to have met and spent time with Col. Tom Moe, USWW1CC Commissioner. Of great interest to the California delegate was the Vietnam prisoner-of-war veteran's stories and how they related and differed from Bill's own grandfather's stories of being wounded and captured in France in WW1.

As another tribute and special treat, the model of the World War One National Memorial, being planned for the nation's capitol was brought from Washington D.C., and placed on display for all to admire. Museum staff were on hand as well to answer questions, and conduct a private tour of the museum.

A delicious buffet lunch was served on the third floor's Museum Gallery where all enjoyed the elegant selections, and shared in further fellowship of centennial interests.

Read more: October 1-2, 2018 - To Honor and Remember

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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