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A Tradition of Service Logo 75George William Schreader

Submitted by: George F. Schreader {Grand Nephew}

 

schreader mugGeorge William Schreader was born around 1894. George Schreader served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1916 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

 

Official U.S. Army portrait of First Sergeant George William Schreader, 28th Infantry Division, 103rd Engineer Regiment. Photograph was probably taken in France in early 1919 during the period of occupation following the Armistice.

George William Schreader served with the U.S. Army in WWI beginning with his enlistment in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1916, continuing through the war in France with Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division in 1918, and into the post-war occupation in 1919 before returning to America for discharge.

The story of my great uncle, George William Schreader, has been recounted in a book entitled, “Sergeant Doughboy – Journal of a WWI American Soldier” by G. F. Schreader. I published this book in 2015, which was my second book in a three-part series that chronicles the military connection of four successive generations of men in the Schreader family, all named George. I am the fourth George in the family. I came to write this series of books as a result of merely attempting to record some family military history beginning with the post-Civil War era (my great-grandfather), through both World Wars (my great-uncle and my father), and through the Vietnam War, in which I served.

Book CoverIn the early to mid-2000’s, my research into piecing together the Schreader family’s military connection had met a roadblock, as no one remaining other than my late father had any memorable recollection of George W.’s involvement in WWI. All we knew at the time was that he had served “over there” somewhere in France. All his personal history seemed to be lost. I was not deterred, and I remained focused on trying to find some connection and meaning to my Great Uncle’s long-forgotten dedication to the U.S. Army and his contribution to our family’s military legacy. Then I struck much more than gold. In my late father’s archives, randomly stashed throughout the house, I found George W.’s military possessions that my father had inherited and forgotten that he had hoarded away. Among the treasures I found were photographs, medals, documents (many of them of historical value), and military collectibles. But the most extraordinary find was George W.’s hand-written personal journal – incredibly intact despite the ravages of time – that spanned a period from the days of chasing Pancho Villa on the Tex-Mex border in 1916, through the trenches of France in 1918, and into the post-war occupation in 1919 before returning to America. I extensively researched WWI and pieced together one incredible story to make a most important link for my series of “Generations at War.” George W. certainly did serve in WWI, but no one in our family could have imagined the unspoken legacy he managed to leave behind for someone to discover. Let me offer to the reader at this point the expanded back-of-the-book segment:

“Calais, France, May 31, 1918 – The Doughboys of the 103rd Engineer Regiment, Philadelphia’s “The Dandy First,” finally arrived on the shores of France to join forces with their main unit, Pennsylvania’s “Keystone Division,” the 28th Infantry. They were a part of General John L. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force. America was now engaged in the Great War for Civilization, and soon the balance of power in Europe would change the course of modern world history. From May until November 11th, the AEF swept across France and engaged the German army in some of the bloodiest battle campaigns in military history. These Doughboys of the 103rd were the engineer train assigned to build and fortify the trenches, build and repair the bridges and roads, and construct the defensive and offensive positions against a most formidable enemy. Their baptism of fire became the stuff of legends. A young American soldier, one of those brave engineers, recorded his horrific experiences with pencil and paper. He not only survived the ordeal, but somehow managed to bring home his personal account, written down on the pages of a tattered notebook that somehow survived the ravages of WWI trench warfare. The story lay hidden for close to a hundred years until the journal was discovered in the family archives by the author, his great nephew.

The author’s Great Uncle, Sergeant First Class George William Schreader, was that Doughboy who miraculously survived the carnage of trench warfare in France during the last great historical battle campaigns of WWI. But it was not without great personal sacrifice. This book is a dramatized account of a young Pennsylvania eastern coal region boy who by circumstance became enlisted in the 103rd Engineer Regiment, America’s oldest continuous existing military unit, originally founded by Ben Franklin in 1747. The young George kept copious notes in his pocket journal – from his days of chasing Pancho Villa in 1916 on the Texas-Mexican border, through the trenches and roads of war torn France until Armistice Day, 1918, and then on to the occupation of France in the wake of the cessation of hostilities as the 103rd tested captured weaponry through the spring of 1919 before returning to America. His personal journal is an often moving narrative of the horrors of war. It is a unique piece of American history as seen through the eyes of a simple enlisted soldier, one of over four million American Doughboys who was merely doing his patriotic duty.”

I have always had a keen interest in American military history, and I continue to read and study it continually. From my WWI research, I gained a new awareness of just what America had experienced as a young nation for the very first time on the world’s stage. And it was not scripted as our founding fathers would have liked. This was not what we as a nation had planned. But we did come away with one very, very important understanding about ourselves. And that understanding was that we could triumph through our actions in this embodiment of a thing we have come to call patriotism. We learned to what extent we as a nation would sacrifice to preserve the American way of life. And the whole world would take a new look at America as it moved into the Twentieth Century. I invite you to take a moment to look closely at the World War I Victory Medal and how I have come to describe it in the opening pages of my book. There has yet to be a greater symbol than this of what America was about then, and what it still is about now. George William Schreader’s Victory Medal, complete with five historical battle clasps, hangs with great honor in my home.

(Author’s Note: This book, along with the first and third books in the series, is available hard copy through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and e-book versions are available on both Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.)

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