WWI DISPATCH for December 2022

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December 2022

Taps in honor of WW1CC staff and volunteers

On Wednesday, December 14, Daily Taps at the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. honored the World War I Centennial Commission and Doughboy Foundation volunteers who keep faith with the Doughboys. Daily Taps is a program supported by donations honoring those who have served or are serving. It especially commemorates the 4.7 million men and women who put on an American uniform in WWI in the name of freedom and Democracy to help end a global conflict that had engulfed and ravaged the entire world. Click on the image to see Daily Taps video, and learn how you can support the program.

Seeing Tina Home: A WWI Christmas Story

E Reynold Thomas

Eighteen-year-old E. Reynold Thomas joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1918. Assigned to the 55th Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, he saw combat at Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, Soissons and Blanc Mont. When the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, exactly one week after his 19th birthday, Thomas and his unit were assigned to occupation duty in Germany. In the small town of Neuwied, Thomas chanced to meet "the loveliest enemy a soldier ever had" that Christmas. Click here to read Thomas's entire Christmas story (found after his death and annotated by his daughter), and learn about the post-holiday risky business that ultimately helped provide more "divine evidence of the power of the Christmas spirit."

43 WWI Soldiers Among Unclaimed Remains of 133 Veteran And Relatives Brought to Final Rest in Washington State Veterans Cemetery

Veterans ashes interred

On Wednesday, November 16 the ashes of 106 veterans unclaimed by their families, including 43 who served in World War I, were brought to their final resting place at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery. “People go unclaimed for various reasons,” said Rob Goff, CEO of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association, during the ceremony. “Sometimes it’s just too hard for families to come back, too physically painful for them to return to the funeral home and pick up their loved ones. Sometimes there’s just nobody left.Click here to read more, and learn about the ongoing efforts to identify and inter the cremated remains of American veterans in honored rest at last.

Senior Curator Doran Cart to Retire from the National World War I Museum and Memorial After 33 Years of Service

Doran Cart

The National WWI Museum and Memorial has announced the retirement of longtime senior curator, Doran Cart. After 33 years of service at the Museum and Memorial, Cart will retire on December 31, 2022. Under Cart’s stewardship since 1990, the museum's collection has grown to be the most comprehensive collection of WWI objects in the world and the Museum and Memorial has grown into a critically acclaimed international destination. Click here to read the entire story, and learn more about the amazing professional career of Doran Cart.

UALR Researchers Aid in Effort to ID Native Americans Who Served in WWI

Native Americans WWI US Army

Native American soldiers deserving of honors for their World War I service could soon receive those decorations thanks in part to work being done at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Sequoyah National Research Center. “Some of these [individuals] never got the recognition they deserved, and their families and relatives may not even know about their actions,” said Erin Fehr, an archivist and assistant director of Sequoyah National Research Center. “Bringing that valor to light is what it’s all about.Click here to find out more about the Sequoyah Center's work supporting the Valor Medals Review Project and Task Force at Park University.

The Story of American Intelligence Starts in World War I

Need to Know cover

"What, a book on World War II intelligence on a site dedicated to World War I? Why? It’s a fair question," says author Nicholas Reynolds. And he has the answer: "The story of American Intelligence starts in World War I, and  almost every one of the major characters in this book cut his (or her) teeth in the first world war. To understand what happened in the second war, you need to reach back to the first war." Click here to read more, and learn how the new book Need to Know tells the stories of the people who helped the country win WWII and set the stage for the Cold War that followed.

Sylvanus Morley: Archeologist...
and World War I Espionage Agent 53

Sylvanus Morley

So an American archeologist goes to Central America to dig up Mayan ruins, and ends up hunting for secret German U-boat bases in the jungle...wait, are we talking about a new Indiana Jones movie here? Nope, this is the true story of Sylvanus Morley, who was a real world eminent archeologist, and also Agent No. 53 for the Office of Naval Intelligence during World War I. Click here to see more, and learn how Morley and other archeology specialists in Mexico and Central America became U.S. intelligence agents using their professional activities as cover. 

Loaned To The Summer: A Doughboy’s Love Story During World War I

Loaned to Summer cover

"As a writer, a veteran, and a descendant of a World War I Doughboy, I remember as a little boy the stories told sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table, while she baked cornbread in an old iron skillet for supper, of my grandfather, whom I had never met, and how they had met and married before he deployed overseas in the Great War with American Expeditionary Forces." So says author Craig deSteiguer talking about his book that describes the shattering wartime experiences and postwar redemption of his grandfather, Pvt. Horace Merriman. Click here to read more, and learn how though "wounded in battle and losing his ability to ever speak again," Merriman learned to "express his life’s feelings through poetry."

Comparing American and German Remembrance Based on Memorials
for the Fallen

Memorials for the Fallen

A new essay published on the University of Würzburg (Germany) web site is an interesting comparison between certain American and German monuments dedicated to those who served in World War I. The four monuments considered in the study include the Studentenstein (Student-Stone) and the Kriegerdenkmal (Warrior-Memorial) located in Würzburg, Germany, and the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO. Click here to read the entire essay, and learn what these monuments share, and how they differ, according to the academic researchers.

World War I Body Armor:
Plate Mail In The Trenches

body armor in the trenches

"At the outset of the Great War, old-world planning ran head-on into the realities of modern technology. Vast numbers of men were thrown into the grinder, and the losses were staggering. Scrambling for solutions, military planners looked backward for one possible answer: armor. With WWI body armor, military leaders looked for a tactical advantage while the men in the trenches looked for any edge to stay alive." Writing for The Armory Life web site, Tom Laemlein takes a look at the trench armor developed during this period. Click here to read the entire fascinating article, and learn about the many attempts to solve the "frustrating equation" of combat body armor for foot soldiers.

The Girls in Navy Blue

The Girls In Navy Blue cover

Writing for the Hasty Book List web site, the eponymous Ashley Hasty finds a lot to like about the World War I novel The Girls in Navy Blue by Alix Rickloff. The dual-timeline story set between 1918 (when the world is experiencing their first world war and the US Navy allows women to join its force for the first time in history) and 1968 when the estranged niece of one of the girls in blue receives a postcard dated 1918 revealing unknown details about her aunt during that time. Click here to learn more about this "elegant tale about a mother and daughter trying to find themselves in the midst of two very different world wars."

“Turn the Keys and the Party’s Over.”

then and now

After writing and publishing his new book World War I (56th Engineers) and Great Depression Letters of Ralph W. Green, U.S. Air Force veteran and author John Stibravy became "very interested in the daily lives of our Soldiers prior to, during, and after the War." In correspondence, he mentioned that "it happens by chance that I've carefully crafted an editorial about WWI for publication and have not published it." Click here to read his intriguing editorial, written from the perspective of someone who has had his finger on a the launch button of nuclear missiles, concerning the "strong similarities between now and pre-WWI," and how people should be thinking about those similarities.

Story of a South Dakota WWI Private

FRom Wentworth to the Western Front cover 2

A widespread lack of understanding around the global impact of World War I and life at the time in rural South Dakota inspired Mount Marty University (MMU) history professor, Dr. Rich Lofthus, to write a book, “From Wentworth to the Western Front,” which has been featured in a C-SPAN program. “World War One is overlooked…and not a lot of attention has ever been paid to what happened in places like rural South Dakota during the war,” Lofthus says.  Click here to learn more about the new book, and learn how to view the cable television program about it.

New London Harbors a German Submarine During WWI – Who Knew?

Deutschland leaving harbor

. . . that in the early morning hours of November 17, 1916, in the middle of World War I, Connecticut welcomed the German submarine Deutschland into New London. The Deutschland was one of the first seven U-151 class U-boats built in Germany and one of the only vessels developed to serve as an unarmed cargo submarine. Designed to carry goods between Germany and the United States, she easily transported up to 700 tons of cargo. Click here to read more about this largely unknown (and quite remarkable) story of German efforts to defeat the blockade by the Royal Navy in World War I.

The Battle Of Nauset Beach:
Inside the Little-Known 1918 German Naval Bombardment of Cape Cod

tugboat Perth Amboy

The U.S. entered the First World War on April 6, 1917, but the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) did not begin operations in France until July. A year later—although it is now mostly forgotten—the U.S. state of Massachusetts came under attack by Germany. The message received at the Chatham Naval Air Station the morning of July 21, 1918 was crisp: “Submarine sighted. Tug and three barges being fired on, and one is sinking three miles off Coast Guard Station 40.” Station 40 was on Nauset Beach, 70 miles southeast of Boston. Click here to read more, and learn how the German U-boat, their intended target, and the U.S. Navy aircraft that responded to the attack, all survived "the only attack on the United States of America during World War One."

The Forgotten Incident that Helped Suck the United States into World War I

Black Tom railcar detail

An incident that unfolded in July of 1916 that has largely been forgotten by the American public worked to shift public sentiment against Germany. On July 30th, 1916, one of the largest human-caused explosions in history rocked New York City. The blast was so powerful it damaged the Statue of Liberty. The explosion is known as the Black Tom explosion, and it was a pivotal part of the run-up to the American entry into World War I. Click here to read more, and learn how Black Tom "was one of the most important incidents that finally pulled the United States into World War I"

Doughboy Foundation Legacy Society enables planned giving support

Legacy Society

The Doughboy Foundation is pleased to offer planned giving opportunities for individuals who wish to join our Legacy Society and help preserve a vibrant, experiential Memorial for future generations. The Doughboy Foundation's mission is to "keep faith with the American Doughboy" by ensuring all those who served in World War I are not forgotten. Click here to learn how your gift for the Doughboy Foundation can help fund the Memorial's visitor programs in perpetuity, inspiring future generations of visitors and forever honoring not only our World War I veterans, but all U.S. servicemen and women.

Doughboy MIA for December

Leonard Charles Aitken

A man is only missing if he is forgotten.

Our Doughboy MIA this month is 1st LT Leonard Charles Aitken. Born in Reno, Nevada on 10 June 1897, Leonard Aitken grew up in California, where he joined the California National Guard at 18 years of age. When the trouble broke out with Mexico, he reported for duty in June, 1916 and served along the border with the hospital corps, attending elements of what would, a year later, become the 160th Infantry, 40th Division.

Following America’s declaration of war on Germany, on 7 April 1917, Aitken reported to the Officers Training School at San Diego and upon graduation shipped to France in August, 1918 as a 2nd lieutenant with the 158th Infantry, 40th Division. There, on 20 October 1918, he was sent as a replacement officer to the 372nd Infantry, 93rd Division, then holding a section of the line in the Alsace sector near Hill 607.

On 7 November, while leading a squad of men on a night patrol, they captured several prisoners but unknowingly walked into the line of fire of a German machine gun nest, which opened up on them, killing or capturing all but two enlisted men of the patrol and freeing the prisoners. Without hesitation Lieutenant Aitken immediately advanced against the position with the intent of eliminating it, but he was shot twice in the chest and killed in the endeavor. His date of death is given as 8 November 1918.

Following the Armistice, it was learned that German officers had seen that Aitkens was buried with full military honors in the church yard of the tiny hamlet of La Paive, some 40 miles east of Epinal, France. Nothing further is known at this time.

Would you like to help solve Lt. Aitken’s case? Why not Give to Doughboy MIA and help us make a full accounting of the 4,423 American service personnel still listed as missing in action from WWI. Make your tax deductible donation now, with our thanks.

Merchandise from the Official
Doughboy Foundation WWI Store



Poppy Hat 

  • Classic white relaxed golf cap
  • Low profile six panel unstructured
  • Standard pre-curved visor
Poppy Hat Detail
  • Washed chino twill
  • Fabric strap with antique brass sliding buckle
  • The front features our beautifully embroidered poppy design
  • Doughboy Foundation logo embroidered on side
  • Decorated in USA
  • Cap imported, TAA compliant
  • First Time in the Doughboy Shop!

WWI Poppy Lapel Pin

Poppy Lapel Pin

Back in stock!!

  • Exclusive Commemorative WW1 Poppy Lapel Pin
  • Soft enamel color design
  • Approx. 1.5 inch in dia.
  • Standard military clasp
Books --Lest We Forget & Honoring the Doughboys

Lest We Forget: The Great War World War I Prints from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. One of the nation’s premier military history institutions pays tribute to the Americans who served and the allies they fought beside to defeat a resourceful enemy with a lavishly illustrated book.  It is an official product of the United States World War One Centennial Commission and is a tribute to those who served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and what would become the Air Force. It serves as a lasting reminder that our world ignores the history of World War I (and the ensuing WWII) at its peril―lest we forget. 

Honoring the Doughboys: Following My Grandfather's World War I Diary is a stunning presentation of contemporary photographs taken by the author that are paired with diary entries written by his grandfather, George A. Carlson, who was a soldier in the U.S. Army during World War I. Jeff Lowdermilk followed his grandfather's path through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany and returned with these meticulously crafted photographs and his own engaging stories that bring the diary to life for contemporary readers. Lowdermilk's passion for World War I and military history began as a young boy when he listened to his grandfather tell his stories about serving as an infantryman-- a "Doughboy"--in Europe during the Great War.

Proceeds from the sale of these items will help complete the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

This and many other items are available as Official Merchandise of the Doughboy Foundation.

Vernon Benjamin Zacher

A Story of Service from the Stories of Service section of ww1cc.org

Vernon Benjamin Zacher

Submitted by: Michael Marshall Zacher {Nephew}

Vernon Benjamin Zacher was born around 1897. Vernon Zacher served in World War 1 with the United States Army . The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service

Vernon Benjamin Zacher was born July 7, 1897 in Barnesville, Minnesota. He was raised in Jamestown, North Dakota and enlisted in Company H, 164th Infantry, North Dakota National Guard February 12th, 1915.

His guard unit was called into Federal service for World War I, March 26th, 1917. Sgt. Zacher with Company H departed for France December 15th, 1917 aboard the troop ship Leviathan.

Vernon attended Officer Candidate School in Langres, France receiving a commission as 2 LT July 8th, 1918. He was discharged from the National Guard and transferred to the Regular Army, 359th Infantry, 90th Division, where he served until the end of the war.

Vernon participated in the St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He was severely wounded November 1st, 1918 near Bantheville, France. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism as well as the French Legion of Honor (chevalier) and the French Croix de Guerre with palm. The citation reads:

"Without regard for his own safety, Lieutenant Zacher led his platoon to the capture of two machine guns which were holding up the advance of the battalion. Although painfully wounded, he would not stop until his objective had been reached".

Read Vernon Benjamin Zacher's entire Story of Service here.

Submit your family's Story of Service here.

Honor the Stories of Service of ALL Who Served.

Do Your Bit to Help Build the new National World War I Memorial.

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