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A look at Highland’s Navy veterans of World War I

By Roland Harris
for the Highland News Leader

American Expeditionary Forces would arrive in Europe to reinforce the Allies in early 1918 and would turn the tide on the battlefield, but there was also war being waged on the seas.

Because of America’s late entry into the war, there were few ship-to-ship encounters with the German fleet. Most of the U.S. Navy’s involvement focused on bringing troops and supplies to European allies and countering the German’s unrestricted U-boat (submarine) attacks on merchant ships.

There were a few local men who served in the Navy during World War I.

USS Ohio BB 12USS Ohio (BB-12) in 1918.Robert H. Ammann, the son of Mrs. Anton Ammann of Highland, and Harry C. Breitenbach, the son of Philip Breitenbach, both had enlisted in the Navy in 1907.

Ammann was just 18 and was assigned to the USS Connecticut for active duty. In April 1907, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, had made the Connecticut his flagship, and it would be part of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” a force of 16 battleships that departed New York on Dec. 16, 1907 and would sail around world as a way of demonstrating the naval power of the U.S.

Ammann re-enlisted on Nov. 22, 1911 and assigned to the USS Dixie, a destroyer tender. By 1914, he was sent to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He was discharged in 1915, but re-enlisted and remained on active duty.

By May 6, 1917, Ammann was assigned to the USS Ohio as chief gunner’s mate. The Ohio had been recommissioned on April 24, 1917.

Read the entire article on the Belleville News-Democrat web site here:

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