Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This is your Army

This morning on the Army's website, one of the lead headlines reads as follows:
Hm, that's curious, I thought, considering that WWI hadn't even started 101 years ago. Intrigued, I clicked on the link. Maybe it's a different World War I. Like, World War Eye, or something, not World War One.

In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to face the freezing, muddy trenches and deadly chemical weapons of the Great War in an effort to make the world safe for democracy. With courage and bravery, American citizens left the peaceful U.S. soil to engage an enemy thousands of miles away.

Cpl. Gus Bishop, then a 20-year-old Kentucky native, chose to fight beside his fellow countrymen. He was severely injured by gunfire during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, Sept. 26, 1918.

Hm, guess not.

To be fair to Specialist V. Michelle Woods, the article text gets is right: in one place it's "nine decades later," and in another "more than 92 years after getting wounded." So it's just the headline writer at who thought that World War I was more than a century ago.

(I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger party.)

Seriously though, this is a cool story. Kudos to MAJ Donald Woods, who tracked down the documents and got his grandfather awarded a Purple Heart nearly a century after he sustained his wounds.

Maj. Donald Bishop, officer in charge of communications, 1st Sustainment Brigade, grandson of Cpl. Bishop, said he began searching for his grandfather's military records in an effort to find out about his military history.

"A couple years back I started digging around trying to find his records", said Donald. "I didn't get them for the purpose of getting him a Purple Heart. It was something I wanted, just to try and dig in and try to find some stuff about him."

Through the help of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Donald said he was able to obtain Gus's records.

The records stated Gus enlisted in the Army in September of 1917, and arrived in France in May of 1918. He was attached to the 39th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and Company E, 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.

He was credited with serving in the Fort-le-Fere engagement, Battle of Saint Milhiel and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. He left France in May of 1919, and was honorably discharged in June of 1919.

Donald, a Kentucky native, said while going through Gus's records, he realized Gus was not awarded the Purple Heart for his injury.

This tale strikes a familiar note for me: after my grandmother died three years ago, my dad came across a stack of my grandfather's mementos from his time in North Africa and Italy back during the second war. My dad's dad died when I was nine, so the time I spent flipping through his diary and trying to match up bits of colored ribbon with the proper medal helped me learn more about his wartime service than I'd ever known before. My own dad wasn't particularly fluent with the details of his father's units and campaigns, so I'd always wondered things like why (for example) a kid from the South Wales valleys served in the Irish Guards. Turns out pretty much the whole town enlisted in the same regiment, and that's the one they ended up in.

Anyway, neat story. And SPC Woods did a good job with it, even if her editor didn't!


  1. I'm guessing -- given that the guy was 20 when he enlisted and that it's been 92 years -- that, assuming his 102nd birthday hasn't happened yet, that HE is 101 years old. So the headline writer/editor's mistake was to confuse his age with the time since WWI. That makes it slightly more understandable if nonetheless just as dumb.

  2. Charlie -- The article doesn't say one way or the other, but I've got a pretty strong sense that ol' Gus is no longer with us.

  3. @Charlie
    I first thought the same thing, but then I found the math does not work out that way ...
    (20 + 92 = 112)