Five new names added to roll of Aggies lost in World War One
By John Blair and Greg Bailey
via the Texas A&M Today web site
Texas A&M University has long recognized the loss of 55 former students in the First World War, but recent research by members of the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee has uncovered five additional students who died during the conflict, but whose names have never been included on any memorial. They include John W. Butts ’10 and Ira W. South ’17, both of Austin, Texas; Hubert R. Florence ’11 of Leesburg, Texas; Joseph Z. Sawyer ’16 of Clarendon, Texas; and George W. Splawn ’17 of Greenwood, Texas.
The Centennial of the First World War for the United States officially began on April 6 of this year—the day war was declared against Germany in 1917. Nearly five million Americans served with over 116,000 losing their lives. An armistice was announced for November 11, 1918; yet, the war did not officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.
The Association of Former Students verified the men’s attendance at the university. Butt’s name surfaced during a research project concerning the Memorial Trees planted on the Simpson Drill Field. He was originally considered, but for some reason was discounted. An inquiry into why that occurred prompted further research on each case of the previously confirmed 55 students to determine what criteria was used at the time to classify them as “Gold Star” Aggies.
In 1918, a service flag, approximately 12 feet by 10 feet, was crafted by the university to honor all former students who were in service during the war. A maroon star identified that service, but the flag also featured 50 gold stars for those who had lost their lives.
The committee felt that Butts should have been included because he was killed in an airplane accident one month prior to Jesse Easterwood’s death, who is a Gold Star Aggie.
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