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William Jonathan Bock

Submitted by: Brandt "Bob" Bock {Son}

William Bock

William Jonathan Bock was born on September 26, 1897. William Jonathan Bock served in World War I with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1917;and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

 

This story of service is being submitted on behalf of all of William Bock’s ten children, (four alive and six deceased) his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great great-grandchildren, and descendants yet to be born.

Our father, William Jonathan Bock, (better known as “Bill”) was not one to discuss or even touch upon his military and World War I experience. That part of his life was over, he was now on to much more important things such as raising a large family and working, working, ever working. Fortunately we do have some of his military records and a letter to be able to recognize his stellar contributions to the effort to defeat Germany during World War I.

It is noteworthy to mention that Germany is where his ancestors lived and immigrated from, but our father was an American and was proud to be!

We know from his “Enlistment Record” that at age 19, he left his parents small farm in Smith Mills, New York to enlist in the U.S. Army on April 19th, 1917 at Buffalo, New York. After locating a copy of his service card we know he, along with other recruits, were transported to what was known then as the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio for the beginning of his basic training.

From here he was transferred to Troop D 16th Calvary at Fort San Houston in San Antonio, Texas, where he completed his basic training as a Military Policeman (an MP). Evidence certainly points to the fact that he was trained not only as being an MP, but a Horse Mounted MP.

From Fort San Houston he was transferred to Chickamauga Park, Georgia (a Civil War Battlefield is nearby). Here he was involved in more advanced MP training.

It was at Chickamauga Park that he wrote a letter on January 12, 1918 to his parents (to our knowledge the only letter we have from our father when he was in the Army) where he advises them that he is going to transfer out of the Military Police to the Motor Truck Division (trucks were in their infancy and WWI spurred rising truck use and development) due to the feeling on his part that it would be a chance to learn how to drive a large truck where he could have a better future plus he was getting tired of grooming another horse - further evidence that he was a Horse Mounted MP, plus on his enlistment record he received an excellent rating for horsemanship.

As an aside, our father was an animal and horse authority/expert… Around 1935 he was a hero to the town of Silver Creek, New York, as he single-handedly faced down and brought under control a team of run-a-way horses that were spooked and about to enter the business area of town. He heard the oncoming menace of these spooked and frantic horses and without regard to his body or life turned a likely disaster into normalcy… The Superman of Silver Creek!!

As a kid (my sister, Marilyn, had similar experiences) I would be told stories of him by his peers of what a champion he was when it came to protecting others and himself, plus other very positive stories regarding his helping others who were in less fortunate situations… The one thing that stands out to me now is how their peer reviews given to me as a young boy was the manliness of my father… I wish now I had been more attentive as the message that was being given to me was a gift that went mostly right over my head… What an extremely fortunate young person I was, what a shame the message didn’t reach me until many, many years later!

We know from his Service Card that after his stint as a Mounted Military Policeman, which seems to end on January 22, 1918, (ten days after the letter he wrote to his parents as mentioned earlier) he becomes part of the 3rd Ammunition Train, 3rd Infantry Division as a heavy truck driver and ammunition specialist (through appropriate training) at Camp Greene in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He sailed from the U.S.A. to France on April 15, 1918 where he was involved in five of the most major battles of World War l (please see his National World War l Memorial Roll of Honor for battle listings). We imagine one of the five major battles was especially meaningful to him and here is why… He enlisted with his very close buddy/friend, Brandt Galloway, and they must have remained together through basic training, etc, etc. Here is the excerpt from the 3rd Infantry Division WWI History Book on Brandt Galloway:

“Galloway, Brandt O. Wagoner (meaning driver) Company “A” 3rd AM. TN. in the Champagne-Marne Defensive, July 14-18th, 1918. Voluntarily carried supplies to 10th Field Artillery, through heavy shell fire and under direct observation (observation on the part of the Germans). In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, while attempting to take his truck out of a shell hole, he was mortally wounded.”

This was our dad’s good buddy…Dad was with him when he died, as he carried Brandt to the Medics…

Here is the excerpt for our father…

“Bock, William J. Private, Company “A” 3rd Ammunition Train. Rendered Distinguished Service in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Sept 26th-November 11th, 1918. While delivering ammunition to a French Battery was heavily shelled, but continued the work of unloading the truck after others on the same duty had left the dangerous area.”

To further this audacious and awe inspiring event we now need to view another good buddy’s storyline from the same 3rd Infantry Division WWI History Book of Sgt Robert Reed, which reads as follows:

“Reed, Robert L, Sergeant, 747872, Company “A”, 3rd AM. TN. for specially meritorious and valorous conduct while delivering ammunition to a French Battery. After all other soldiers had left, he continued to unload the truck with Private Bock during a gas attack.”

So not only were they being heavily shelled, they were also experiencing a German gas attack!! Dad and “Bob” Reed were both cited for a “Citation Star” (Renamed the Silver Star Medal in 1932). Only Sergeant Reed received one, our father was cited for “Distinguished Services.”

At my father’s funeral (60 years old) in June 1958, the funeral date was especially made so that his former “Battle Buddy” Robert “Bob” Reed could attend, as Mr. Reed expressed his deep desire to be there to pay homage to his longtime and so very close friend, a bond that had been cemented from an unforgettable experience and day some forty years earlier in the Meuse-Argonne Forest, which is the deadliest battle in the History of the United States Army.

After the funeral, Robert Reed sought out our family and expressed his love and admiration for our father and resolutely indicated that he couldn’t comprehend why his old friend and fellow warrior “Bill” Bock had not been awarded the “Silver Star” as he was, going on to say that if he, Robert Reed, was given such a high honor, that our father deserved it even more so due to Dad’s extremely courageous actions!!

Later in life our brother, Warren, was pursuing getting the “Silver Star” awarded posthumously to our father, but when brother Warren died in 2010, at age 78, so did the attempt... We are sure that knowing Dad, he could of cared less about being awarded the “Silver Star”. What he would have wanted was his dear friend, Brandt Galloway, alive and well!!

Everything has a beginning and an end, but before the final sentence of our fathers "Story Of Service" is written, here are some important points to pass on:

Please view his National World War I Memorial Roll of Honor, you will find it informative and connecting.

On Dec 1, 1918, Dad was promoted to the rank of Corporal, it can be well assumed that this had a lot to do with his total performance while in the Army and probably weighs heavily on his outstanding performance in the aforementioned Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

He was discharged at the rank of Private, which was the way the Army did things in 1919. The raise in rank to Corporal was due to a battlefield promotion - when the Army was letting you out they would take away the battlefield promotion and return a solider to his original rank so they wouldn’t have to pay increase mustering out pay, etc.

When the war ended at the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month of 1918, Dad stayed on in the Army of Occupation in Germany and sailed back to the USA, arriving August 23, 1919 on board the Prinz Friederich Wilhelm, a former German ocean liner. As of yet we can not find how he sailed over to France.

The United States declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917, thirteen days later, April 19, 1917 our father, grandfather, et al enlisted in the United States Army. On his Enlistment Record there is an entry for character, his rating was excellent!

We all thank you, Dad, for leaving “a larger than life” legacy for all of us. Your performance while in the U.S. Army for some 2 1/2 years is just a tiny representation of what you meant to your family, friends and peers. What you did for your country and the people of Europe during your war effort was exemplary in every way… The sixty years you spent on this earth mainly raising a huge family and showing us your wonderful ways will live on & on, for you, William Jonathan Bock, also known as “Bill” were “one for the ages.”

WIlliam Jonathan Bock WIlliam Jonathan Bock enlistmentWIlliam Jonathan Bock discharge

WIlliam Jonathan Bock Form No 724

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