fbpx
previous arrow
next arrow
Slider
previous arrow
next arrow
Slider

World War I Centennial News


 

 

Golden14 final2Researchers and descendants are working to dust off the stories of the Golden Fourteen.  

The Hidden History of First Black Women to Serve in WWI U.S. Navy 

By Giulia Heyward
via the Atlas Obscura web site

When Jerri Bell first wrote about the Golden Fourteen, their story only took up a sentence. These 14 Black women were the first to serve in the U.S. Navy, and Bell, a former naval officer and historian with the Veteran’s Writing Project, included them in a book about women’s contributions in every American war, co-written with a former Marine. But even after the book was published, Bell couldn’t get their story out of her head.

“It made me kind of mad,” Bell says. “Here are these women, and they were the first! But I think there was also a general attitude at the time that the accomplishments of women were not a big deal. Women were not going to brag.”

Bell was one of a few researchers who have been able to track down documents that acknowledge the lives and work of these Black women. She knew that during World War I, the Fourteen had somehow found employment in the muster roll unit of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., under officer John T. Risher. One was Risher’s sister-in-law and distant cousin, Armelda Hattie Greene.

The Golden Fourteen worked as yeomen and were tasked with handling administrative and clerical work. They had access to official military records, including the work assignments and locations of sailors. At the time, Black men who enlisted in the Navy could only work as messmen, stewards, or in the engine room, shoveling coal into the furnace. They performed menial labor and weren’t given opportunities to rise in rank.

Read more: The Hidden History of First Black Women to Serve in WWI U.S. Navy

 

Lodoun County WWI MemorialLoudoun County’s World War I monument on the county courthouse grounds in Leesburg.

Supervisors Vote to Replace Segregated WWI Memorial Plaque 

By Renss Greene
via the loudounnow.com (VA) web site

A memorial in the courthouse square to Loudouners who died serving in World War I will be replaced with one that does not segregate those service members by race.

The plaque, on a stone monument, lists 30 names. Three of those are at the bottom of the plaque, separated by a line—the three Black people on the list, Pvts. Ernest Gilbert, Valentine B. Johnson and Samuel C. Thornton. The memorial was erected 1921, three years after the war, donated by the American Legion. It will be replaced with a new one with a similar design, but with all of the names listed together.

The push to replace the plaque is led by Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn). He previously contacted American Legion Post 34 to ask about replacing the plaque, receiving its support as well as a letter from the War Memorial Trust Committee that includes local veterans, members of American Legion Post 34, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177, which also endorsed the idea of simply listing all names on the plaque alphabetically.

They also suggested rededicating the memorial on its 100th anniversary next year.

Supervisors unanimously supported the change.

“Thank you, Supervisor Turner, for putting this up so that we can make the changes that are needed in our county, that we see that soldiers fought side by side for our country, and that we should not delineate the person because of their color or their race,” said Supervisor Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run).

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said “all history should be told, all history should be learned, but not all history should be celebrated.”

“These people made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War, so how are we going to separate them not just in life, but separate them in death?” Randall said.

Read more: Supervisors Vote to Replace Segregated War Memorial Plaque

 

Packard Truck before and afterThe 1919 Model E Packard Truck before (right) and after restoration by "Packard Dave" Lockard.

Confessions of a Sledge Hammer Antique Truck Restorer 

By Dave Lockard
via the baltimorepostexaminer.com (MD) web site

YORK SPRINGS, PA — As a fossil at the ‘seasoned’ age of 74 years, I must confess to my fellow hobbyists that I am not a vehicle restoration specialist. I have, however had many folks over the years provide me with Packard motor truck literature & complete many mechanical jobs/new manufacturing of parts projects that were way beyond my capability. Personally, I can only claim skills of appearing pathetically incompetent, pleading, begging and knowing only enough to be dangerous with engines to be able to have such wonderful friends that help me to bring back to life deceased commercial vehicles.

At the Hershey Fall Meet I have had numerous chance encounters with really knowledgeable experts (Matt, don’t get too swelled up with pride, OK?) with their commercial vehicles who put me to shame, so I must rely on my acid tongue/wise guy stupid comments that the public identifies as humor. Such was the case with my 1919 Packard truck. For 32 years on the day after the Hershey Fall Meet my friends along with the full support of my wife Joan, we held the ‘Packard Truck Organization’ meet that came to a screeching halt in 2018.

Over the years I got to know an elderly & true gentleman by the name of Charles White who for years lived just north of Philadelphia. Charles was a regular attendee at the PTO meet held at my home in York Springs, about a half hour above Gettysburg. Charles owned a fascinating original ex-Connecticut chemical fire truck chassis long after the body had been removed years ago — inheriting the Packard from his late father James, who purchased the Packard back in 1955. In the interim, following James passing, the Packard was stored in a south Philadelphia warehouse & home of the ‘Anthracite Battery Company’, was then taken south to Waverly, Florida Charles had residence. Sometime later Charles moved back north to South Carolina, his final residence.

The Packard remained in Florida where a local garage was supposed to begin restoration, however, that never happened. In early 2000 I had sold Charles a spare engine for his truck along with a spare transmission as his Packard truck did not run.

Moving forward to March 2008, I received a phone call from Charles who sadly,told me he had sold his White truck he had so coveted and now had to pass the Packard onto someone else. I explained to Charles that having seen pictures only of this original Packard truck that I knew several fellows who would be thrilled to buy the Packard (I cherish my solid capitalist business ethic of being a ‘Zero Commission Agent’). When asked, I constantly answer “I lose a little bit of money on every sale, but I always make it up in volume.” (Duh!) Charles emphatically told me not to contact anyone and he would get back to me shortly.

So, I waited.

Read more: Confessions of a Sledge Hammer Antique Truck Restorer

 

Jorjani Joseph Weishaar Edwin FountainAdvisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman Aimee Jorjani (left) with memorial designer Joe Weishaar, and Edwin Fountain of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

ACHP Chairman Tours Upcoming National World War I Memorial 

via the achp.gov web site

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman Aimee Jorjani on December 21 toured the site of what will be the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. Located in Pershing Park one block from the White House, the memorial is expected to open to the public in April 2021. Of the four major wars of the 20th century, World War I is the last to have a national memorial in the nation’s capital.

Pershing Park, a memorial to General John J. Pershing, commander of American forces in World War I, was redesignated as the site of the National World War I Memorial through legislation signed by President Barack Obama, as part of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission activities.

The tour was led by Edwin Fountain, general counsel for the American Battle Monuments Commission, who had the idea for the memorial. At first, he thought the DC War Memorial on Independence Avenue might be expanded from honoring only District of Columbia World War I dead to become the national memorial, but the process led them to Pershing Park.

The existing memorial to General Pershing will remain, and the park will include a water feature and a statue wall to honor those who fought in the war. The site is being made more accessible and will have many interpretive signs to educate the public about World War I.

Read more: ACHP Chairman Tours Upcoming National World War I Memorial

 

Charlie Bauer in the center of the front row circa 1917Kris Dillmankrisdillman@yahoo.comCharlie Bauer is seated in the center of the front row of this group of U.S. soldiers who served in World War I. Charlie was the son of Heinrich and Katherine Bauer from Norka and was born in Oregon in 1894. This photograph was taken in Trier, Germany in 1917 and was provided courtesy of Kris Dillman. 

The Volga Germans in Portland, Oregon during World War I 

By Steven H. Schreiber
via the volgagermansportland.info web site

The outbreak of World War I on July 28, 1914 was met with anxiety and fear by both the Volga German colonists living in Russia and their family and friends who had immigrated to the United States.

​The war exacerbated Russia’s Germanophobia and Slavophile tendencies. Despite the fact that the Volga Germans had lived peacefully in Russia for 150 years, Russian Foreign Minister Zazonov called for a “final solution” to the ethnic German problem in Russia, noting that the time had come "...to deal with this long over-due problem, for the current war has created the conditions to make it possible to solve this problem once and for all.” Russian General Polivanov wrote in a pamphlet that was distributed among Russian soldiers on order of Grand Duke Nicholas, the Tsar's uncle:

"Russia's Germans must all be driven out, without respect of age, sex, any supposed usefulness, or their many years of residence in the empire."

Despite their loyalty to Russia, the following insult was not uncommon:

"You are Germans--Nemski," they were charged. We are going to fight the barbarians, your brothers. Woe to you, you scoundrels, if you make any effort to help your Kaiser Wilhelm."

Despite all of the rhetoric, thousands of Volga German men were conscripted to serve in the Russian military. However, they were not allowed to speak German or sing German songs. They were watched closely as if they were the enemy. Their situation worsened in 1915 after a major defeat of the Russian army by the German forces. Without evidence, the ethnic Germans serving in the Russian army were conveniently blamed for the defeat.

War hysteria was spread by vilifying publications and wide-spread rumors. The millions of semi-literate and non-literate Russians had no way of ascertaining the facts and readily accepted the absurd propaganda. For example, it was claimed that a Volga German flour-mill magnate was shipping a weekly trainload of flour from Saratov to Riga for Kaiser Wilhelm's forces. No one asked, and it was never explained, how an entire trainload of flour could travel hundreds of miles through Russia and across a war front manned by Russian troops on a weekly basis.

Despite the fact that there was no documented case of a German colonist having been charged with treason or sabotage, the anti-German campaign continued. ​Most German language newspapers were closed or suppressed. Approximately 190,000 to 200,000 ethnic Germans living in Russia were deported to Siberia from 1915 to 1916, including several pastors. The number of losses is unknown, but a mortality rate of one-third to one-half (63,000-100,000) is estimated.

In 1916, an order was issued to deport the entire Volga German population (around 650,000 at the time) to the Siberia. The 1917 Socialist Revolution prevented that wholesale deportation from being carried out. About this turn of events, the author and poet Peter Sinner wrote:

When the storm had subsided, our German colonists saw themselves betrayed once more. The temporary government immediately halted the fierce expulsion law, but they did not rescind it. The general quartermaster of the temporary government renewed the prohibition of the German language. The war would be continued.

The situation was also growing dire for ethnic Germans living In the United States. Anti-German sentiment and propaganda reached extreme levels after America entered the war in April 1917. The German language was forbidden to be used in many places. German language newspapers were closed and several editors were sent to interment camps. Germans were tarred and feathered in 13 states, including Oregon. German books were banned in libraries and burned in public ceremonies.

Read more: The Volga Germans in Portland, OR during WWI

 

MTc3NTg0ODE1Njc4MTcwNzMzThis ca. 1918 photo has failed to reveal the identify of the US soldier buried beneath the single grave marker for more than a century — that’s until two WWI researchers took on the challenge of discovering who was commemorated in the image. 

A Lone World War I Doughboy’s Grave

By Charles G. Thomas and Austin Osman
via the Military Trader web site

A photographic image captured by Sgt. Owen G. Williams of the 3rd Photo Section, American Expeditionary Force (AEF) of a lone American grave north of Flirey, France, sparked the interest of the authors, both avid WWI researchers. Who was the soldier marked by the rudimentary cross? Despite excellent details the photo was able to reveal, the sparse caption on back (Flirey), and a diary entry left by Williams, the identity of the soldier has remained unknown for over a century.

The question was, could the Doughboy in the poorly marked grave finally be identified? We thought we could.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS PHOTO

As seen above, the grave is surrounded by cheval de frise barricades and the wreckage of war. The barricades would have been used to block the nearby road (seen in the background). Note the fired artillery shells, numerous Hotchkiss machine gun ammunition clips, and even US and German bayonets stuck into the ground marking the edge of the grave. A US Enfield rifle (with bolt removed) rests on top while a holed overseas cap is seen near the head of the grave.

What catches most eyes is the interesting name plate and identification disc (“dog tag”) nailed to the cross. A high-resolution scan revealed that there is a name scratched on to the plate: “Eugene something.” The Model 1917 dog tag, however, was unreadable.

BEGINNING TO PIECE THE PUZZLE TOGETHER

From here, we were able to piece together some clues:

*The location written on the reverse is Flirey. This lies between St. Mihiel and Point Au-Mousson.

*From that, we could surmise the subject was most likely killed during the St Mihiel Offensive, when the US presence there was greatest.

*Per the the AEF’s order of battle, Flirey was in the IV Corp’s zone for the offensive. IV Corp consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 42nd, and 89th Divisions. Of those Divisions, the 1st, 2nd, and 42nd were all equipped with M1903 Springfield rifles. Remember, there was an Enfield rifle shown with the grave.

*The 89th Division, however, were equipped with M1917 Enfield rifles. In checking the Corps combat map for the battle, we see that the 89th (carrying Enfield’s) started out of Flirey.

Read more: A Lone WWI Doughboy’s Grave

 

Wheeling Doughboy RestoredClose-up of the recently-restored Doughboy statue in Wheeling Park, Wheeling, WV. The return of the statue after restoration was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wheeling Park Doughboy has his rifle back after year of restorations

By Stephanie Grindley
via the wvnstv.com CBS 59 television station (WV) web site 

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Over one year later, the Doughboy statue in Wheeling Park is back, and near a century old, is looking better than ever!

Lester was taken to Detroit last November where ‘Venus Bronze Works’ set out to restore him.

Covered in dents, bird droppings, rust head to toe, a missing rifle and a hand poorly reattached… The elements were not kind to this 88-year-old figure, but Wheeling was.

Individuals and local foundations raised a whopping $21,000 to fix him up… A cost the friendly city deemed deserving as he stands to remind the Ohio Valley of all who fought for our freedom.

"This guy, to me, represents the common soldier. He’s not an officer. He’s an infantry man; a Doughboy. These are the guys who died in large numbers in all of the wars really. And so, I think it’s important to remember that. And it’s our legacy. So, I’d like to see him stay here for an indefinite future."
--Sean Duffy, Chairman of the Wheeling Doughboy Restoration Committee

This WWI statue was supposed to be back in May but the pandemic even affected his arrival… Which the history buff says was ironic since Lester represents the soldiers during 1918, who were impacted by a pandemic…but one by a different name; the H1N1.


 

 

Charles McAllisterCharles McAllister poses in his World War I uniform in this undated photo. 

‘Unsolvable’: Forensic sleuth says he’s identified a long-dead WWI Doughboy, but whose job is it to bring him home? 

By Wyatt Olson
via the Stars and Stripes newspaper web site

When Beverly Dillon’s home phone rang on a late summer evening in 2019, she ignored it. She didn’t recognize the number and assumed it was a pesky marketing call to her home in a small Montana town near Glacier National Park.

But as the caller began leaving a message on her old-fashioned answering machine — mentioning the surnames Vincent and McAllister — Dillon raced to pick up the phone.

“Yes! I was a Vincent before I was a Dillon, and my grandmother's maiden name was McAllister,” the self-described “genealogy nut” recalled saying. “I nearly jumped out of my skin I was so excited.”

On the other end of the line was Jay Silverstein, a forensic anthropologist who said he believed he had identified the remains of Pfc. Charles McAllister, her great uncle who died in battle during World War I.

Silverstein had just retired from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii, the U.S. government’s official agency tasked with bringing home the remains of the nation’s missing war dead, but this was the one case he could not bear to leave unresolved. The remains had been stored at the agency’s Hawaii lab for 15 years.

Dillon, now 80, and her son, Sean, submitted DNA samples to the Department of Defense DNA Registry in August 2019, for which she received a letter of receipt a few weeks later. It was the last contact she had from the government concerning the samples, she said. More than a year later, the case has gone nowhere.

Silverstein, who now teaches forensic anthropology in Russia, is frustrated with what he regards as DPAA’s foot-dragging on a case he insists could have — should have — been completed years ago.

Read more: ‘Unsolvable’: Forensic sleuth says he’s identified a long-dead WWI Doughboy, but whose job is it...

 

Submarine off NJA New Jersey dive crew has found a World War I-era U.S. Navy submarine near the Delmarva Peninsula. It is the SS-85, an R-8 class submarine built in 1918. 

WWI-era U.S. submarine found frozen in time on ocean floor by N.J. dive team 

By Bill Duhart
via the nj.com (New Jersey) web site

A post-World War I-era submarine has been found on the ocean floor near the Delmarva Peninsula and appears to be fully intact and upright, a salvage rescue company said Thursday.

The vessel is believed to be a decommissioned U.S. navy R-8 class submarine sank during a practice bombing exercise in 1936, the salvage company said. It was one of 27 R-class submarines commissioned by the Navy during WWI but was completed until after the war. It was built in 1918 in Quincy, Massachusetts.

“The discovery is historically important because R-8 is one of few American submarines resting in [accessable] East Coast waters that had yet to be located,” a statement from Atlantic Wreck Salvage said.

Atlantic Wreck Salvage is operated by Joe Mazraani and Jennifer Sellitti, a crew member and diver on the D/V Tenacious, the vessel the salvage company uses for explorations. When they are not at sea, the pair work as criminal defense attorneys for the New Jersey Public Defenders Office and live on a farm in Freehold.

“It’s in pristine condition,” said Sellitti. “When we find these it’s not just hunks of metal at bottom of the ocean. It connects it to a moment of history.”

Atlantic Salvage is not releasing additional information about the depth or the location of the vessel until the crew can dive to the wreckage and make a formal identification. But sonar images matched with historic photos and information about where SS 85 went down have convinced the crew this is the vessel.

The crew has not dived to the wreck to explore it. Sellitti said that won’t likely occur until the spring, because the end of the mid-Atlantic diving season is in December.

Read more: WWI-era U.S. submarine found frozen in time on ocean floor by N.J. dive team

 

Lynwood DoughboyThe Doughboy Monument in Lynbrook, which turned 100 in October, has had a storied history filled with controversy.  

Lynbrook's Doughboy Monument, 100, once center of 'village civil war' 

By Mike Smollins
via the Long Island Herald newspaper (NY) web site

The following information came from the archives of Lynbrook American Legion Post 335, and old newspaper clippings, including the Nassau Daily Review and Nassau Daily Star newspapers. The period of the newspaper articles is from 1931 to 1936.

In this day and age when some want to take down statues from past generations and wars, Lynbrook has its own statue that has stood for 100 years. as of this past October. However, the statue did cause some controversy in the 1930s, with one newspaper saying it caused a “village civil war.”

That statue is the veteran’s Doughboy Monument (also called the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the 1920s), a statue of a World War I soldier which stands on a small plot of an island in Saperstein Plaza behind Lynbrook’s Long Island Rail Road station. It is the centerpiece of the village’s war monuments. On the four-sided pedestal below the statue are the names of 15 local soldiers killed in action in World War I.

The inscription on the back of the statue reads, “Erected by the citizens of Lynbrook and vicinity, dedicated on 12th day of October A.D. 1920.”

The Doughboy did not always stand in Saperstein Plaza, and one of its past locations caused the controversy that pitted Lynbrook’s American Legion members against village fathers, and especially against the Lynbrook Library board of trustees.

Back in the mid-1930s, Lynbrook’s American Legion Post 335 numbered 270 members, with championship county and state baseball teams, a boy’s club, and even a 30-piece band. It also sponsored an annual week-long village carnival at Sunrise Highway and Atlantic Avenue and highlighted an annual contest “to decide the most popular policemen, fireman, letter carrier, boy and girl in Lynbrook.” The post also hosted musical plays, and its former building on Union Avenue was a center of community activities, including parties, meetings, and other village events.

The Doughboy statue, which reportedly cost $5,000, was commissioned by Lynbrook’s Militia Unit, Company B, 23rd Regiment of the New York National Guard. Philip Stauderman, former Lynbrook village president, and a captain in the Regiment, told the Nassau Daily Star in 1936 that the statue was built through public subscription and “turned over to the Village of Lynbrook after its dedication by Gen. John F. O’Brien, on Presidents Day.”

The inscription on the bottom of the Doughboy said the that the general’s last name is O’Ryan.

The statue with its pedestal of names of those killed in action was originally placed on the corner of Merrick Road and Blake Avenue where an Esso gas station stood and where a village fountain now stands.

Read more: Lynbrook's Doughboy Monument, 100, once center of 'village civil war'

 

23378788 web1 M WW1 Monument 1200x852A World War I memorial stands in front of the Island County Courthouse with the names of eight men who died in military service during the war. Candace Nourse-Hatch went digging to find out their stories. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times 

Curious about World War I memorial, WA woman researches the names set in stone 

By Emily Gilbert
via the Whidbey News-Times newspaper (WA) web site

Although she had walked by the World War I memorial numerous times when she still lived on Whidbey Island, Candace Nourse-Hatch didn’t know who put it there or the stories of the men on the stone monument.

Nourse-Hatch’s great-uncle, Harry Nourse from the Maxwelton area on South Whidbey, is one of the eight men from Island County who died during their military service in World War I. They are memorialized on a stone monument in front of the Island County courthouse, right across the street from Coupeville Town Hall.

Nourse-Hatch collected biographical and military service information about each of the men over the course of a year from government archives, local newspapers, obituaries and a book written about one of them.

She found that none of the men were born on Whidbey Island, but each somehow made their way to Island County.

Nourse-Hatch’s great-uncle lived with his wife and his siblings on a farm in Maxwelton just after the turn of the century. The Nourse siblings emigrated to Whidbey Island from Australia.

“They’d never even heard of Whidbey,” Nourse-Hatch said, adding that the group had been looking to settle in Canada at first and wasn’t sure how they came to the island. The farm became their family home.

When her great uncle was 37 years old, Nourse-Hatch said, he joined the Canadian Army because the United States was not yet involved in World War I.

“For some reason he decided that he had to go fight,” she said.

He said goodbye to his wife and siblings (he had no children of his own) and went to British Columbia where he enlisted in Canadian Army, British Columbia Regiment, 7th Battalion on Oct. 18, 1917.

He died about a year later on Sept. 2, 1918, after being hit by shrapnel from an enemy shell, according to Nourse-Hatch’s research. He is buried in Vimy Memorial Cemetery, Pas De Calais France.

“Uncle Harry’s loss was a very tragic event for the family because he and his wife lived right there,” with the extended family, she said. “We knew all about him. He was a real hero in the family.”

Read more: Curious about World War I memorial, woman researches the names set in stone

 

Fallsington, PA hosts Veterans Day ceremony at restored WWI statue

via the Fairless Focus newspaper (PA) web site

Against the backdrop of a recently restored World War I statue, local officials, military veterans, and spectators gathered in the heart of Fallsington to salute those who served their country, particularly those from the World War I era.

DOUGHBOY4Historic Fallsington Inc. Executive Director Kimberly Praria Boice (left) with Anthony Sattilaro of NJ, medic display representing the 111th Ambulance Company, 103rd Sanitary Train, 28th US Infantry Division, circa 1918.The brief ceremony was held at the sight of Falls Township’s Doughboy statue, which honors WWI veterans.

The Falls Township Board of Supervisors this year hired a conservation company to breathe new life into the limestone statue.

The company thoroughly cleaned the statue and pedestal, strengthened the stone, repaired a crack, and recreated a missing barrel on the rifle stock.

The brick walkway and low wall were also steam-cleaned to reduce soiling and biological growth.

Falls Supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence said the board is committed to its restoration efforts, noting that preservation is planned for the historic Three Arches home in 2021.

“We have a rich history in Falls Township,” Jeff said. “It’s our duty and obligation to preserve our history.”

Historic Fallsington Executive Director Kimberly Boice provided a Thank-a-Vet kit to those in attendance. She offered “sincere and heartfelt gratitude” for veterans’ service and noted that more than 4.7 million served in WWI.

“Some returned home,” Kimberly told the small crowd gathered at the statue. “Others did not. All bore the scars and marks of their service.”

Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie, who lives in Falls and previously served on the board of supervisors, noted that the statue has been situated in the center of Fallsington for almost 100 years.

Read more: Fallsington, PA hosts Veterans Day ceremony at restored WWI statue

 

Port Jervis ceremonyPort Jervis, NY Mayor Kelly Decker salutes the flag as Broome Street Band members Jason Csencsits, Jaelyn Csencsits, Makayla Csencsits, Stacey Joergle and Al Gessner perform The Star-Spangled Banner during a re-dedication at Skinners Park on Veterans Day 2020.

Port Jervis, NY rededicates WWI monument to veterans 

By Sharon E. Siegel
via the Times Herald-Record newspaper (NY) web site

PORT JERVIS – As many people celebrated Veterans Day in quiet ways on their own due to pandemic restrictions, Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker and a small number of local musicians carried out a brief, socially distanced rededication at a local park.

With both of the city’s veteran posts closed due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the city, and with Port Jervis under a limited state of emergency, the traditional Veterans Day parade, ceremonies and veteran dinners were canceled.

At the original dedication at Skinners Park in 1940, Ora Wheat, commander of Roosa-Fleming VFW Post 161, declared the 20-ton granite disc monument “dedicated to the memory of the living and dead.” Post 161 planned to add later an eternal flame and a marker intended by General Chairman Harold E. Scales during planning stages in 1938.

This month’s re-dedication included the addition of the flame and a bronze plaque naming the 34 Port Jervis men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty during World War I. They are Joseph M. Alvord, James C. Bilz, William E. Bross, John Collins Jr., Tracy K. Decker, Aloysius A. Delaney, William J. Earley, James Fleming, Lewis V. Gray, George Hamilton, Harrison E. Hornbeck, Norman Howe, Charles Kalin, Walter Koenig, Joseph Mascanz, Elliott McAllister, Joseph McGuire, Charles F. Meade, Hugh Leonard Miller, William Mulligan, Horace Murtha, Francis J. O’Connor, Levi Owens, Daniel Joseph Quigley, Harold Reid, Harold P. Rooney, Isaac H. Roosa, William J. Ryan, Charles Shaneberg, Arthur Sterritt, Bruno Terpilowsky, Samuel Thorne, William Williams, and Fred Youmans.

As the Nov. 11, 2020 Skinners Park event was broadcast live via social media, several members of the Broome Street Band provided music for the brief ceremony marking the completion of the monument as it was originally intended.

“On Monday, Nov. 11, 1940, Armistice Day 80 years ago, this plot of land known as Skinners Park was dedicated with the Eternal Light Monument in honor of the living and memory of the dead World War I veterans,” said Decker, himself a veteran and grandson of a WWI Doughboy.

Read more: Port Jervis, NY rededicates WWI monument to veterans

"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +


Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo


Starr Foundation Logo


The Lilly Endowment