9 November, 2018 06:58

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Friday, November 9, 2018 which is National Scrapple Day, World Freedom Day, National Chaos Never Dies Day and National Microtia Awareness Day.
This Day in Legion History:

  • Nov. 9, 1926: Originating five years earlier in Pennsylvania posts, the American Legion School Award program becomes national, honoring outstanding eighth-grade boys evaluated on five points: honor, courage, scholarship, leadership and service. The American Legion Auxiliary offers a similar award for girls on the basis of courage, character, service, companionship and scholarship. In its first year, 1,046 medals are awarded throughout the country. By 1943, the number would soar to 13,302.
  • Nov. 10, 1919: Following the decision to name Indianapolis the permanent home of the national organization, American Legion National Adjutant Lemuel Bolles announces that “as soon as practical” The American Legion Weekly Publishing Corp. will “also have headquarters at Indianapolis.” The magazine office, however, remains based in New York until 1976.
  • Nov. 11, 1921: President Warren G. Harding and the Allied generals, flanked by American Legion members, dedicate the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, the culmination of a Legion-supported legislative push by U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish Jr., a Plattsburgh alum, former captain of “Harlem’s Hellfighters,” the famed all-black 369th Infantry Regiment, and founding member of The American Legion.

This Day in History:

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Rapid City Journal (SD) :American Legion commander visiting the Black Hills

American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad is touring the Black Hills, and legion posts are putting out the welcome mat.
"We were asked to give him a down-home meal," Bill Kelly, finance officer for American Legion Post 303 in Hermosa, said Thursday.
Kelly said the Legion expected a crowd of 75 people and was preparing a supper of sloppy joes, baked beans and tater salad.
"It’s what we’re known for," he said.
Reistad was named national commander last summer in Minneapolis at the organization’s annual national convention. A former commander of the post in McLean, Virgina, he arrived Thursday in the Black Hills. He started his visits to legion posts in Hot Springs. On Friday, he visited Post 22 in Rapid City.
"We’re giving him a couple souvenirs," said Kelly, "including a koozie with a veteran’s engraving and a blue cap that says, ‘We support our veterans.’"
The American Legion’s website says Reistad’s eligibility comes through his honorable Vietnam-era service as an active duty Army infantryman.
Capital Journal (SD):Royal Johnson: SD hero played key Congressional role in founding American Legion a century ago

  • By Stephen Lee stephen.lee


Rep. Royal Johnson before House Ways and Means Committee on bonus. Rep. Royal Johnson, of South Dakota and a World War hero himself, appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee today to voice his opposition against payment of the soldiers bonus (Courtesy Library of Congress)

The key role played by a South Dakota member of Congress and war hero in forming the American Legion a century ago just after World War I is little known, but it’s a tale worth telling.
Especially since the American Legion’s National Commander Brett Reistad is visiting South Dakota this week.
The Virginia law enforcement man and Army veteran was in Fort Pierre on Tuesday and Mount Rushmore on Thursday, visiting American Indian reservations for the first time, he told the Capital Journal.
Reistad was elected national commander at the American Legion’s national convention in Minneapolis in late August, the 100th national convention since the Legion’s first one in September 1919, also in Minneapolis.
That same month in 1919, Congress passed a law giving the American Legion a federal charter. It was U.S. Rep. Royal Johnson, R-SD, who introduce that legislation in the House in the summer of 1919, only months after he returned from France where he was critically injured in battle.
Raised in Highmore, Royal Johnson was an amazing politician who voted in Congress against entering the “Great War,” in Europe in 1917. But once his country was at war, Johnson left Capitol Hill and enlisted in the Army to go fight.
It began with the build-up that culminated with Congress declaring war on Germany, 100 years ago this week, on April 6, 1917.
A Republican, Johnson was one of only 50 members of the House to vote against the war declaration; 373 voted for it. South Dakota’s other two members of the House split: Rep. Charles Dillon, also a Republican, also voted no, while Rep. Harry Gandy, a Democrat, voted for war. It was 3 a.m., April 6, according to the Capital Journal’s afternoon edition that day.
But Johnson followed his no vote with a bold and brave move done by no one else, according to news reports.
In January 1918, he resigned from Congress and enlisted in the Army as a private to go fight in France in the war he had opposed. He didn’t have to go. He was 34 and was exempt from military service.
Congress rejected his resignation despite his absence but Johnson kept his khaki. He made sergeant within a few months, received an officer’s commission as a 2nd lieutenant in June. By September 2018 he was a 1st lieutenant in France in Company D of the 313th Infantry, in the slog that had killed millions already and now was grinding up Americans, too.
In the frenetic final build-up to America’s entry into the Great War 100 years ago this week, South Dakota Congressman Royal Johnson, who grew up in Highmore, played a unique and heroic role that made him an international figure.
One of only 50 in the House who voted against declaring war on Germany, Royal Cleaves Johnson within months resigned from Congress, enlisted in the Army as a private in the war to which he said he didn’t want to send anyone else’s children. He commanded other men in battle and got wounded by a German artillery shell but still dragged others to safety.
While Johnson lay for months in hospitals in France, South Dakota voters re-elected him to Congress. After nearly a year in hospital, he returned to champion veterans’ rights on Capitol Hill and introduced the bill that gave the American Legion a national charter.
No one could sell that story to Hollywood without hearing snorts of disbelief.
It began with the build-up that culminated with Congress declaring war on Germany, 100 years ago this week, on April 6, 1917.
A Republican, Johnson was one of only 50 members of the House to vote against the war declaration; 373 voted for it. South Dakota’s other two members of the House split: Rep. Charles Dillon, also a Republican, also voted no, while Rep. Harry Gandy, a Democrat, voted for war. It was 3 a.m., April 6, according to the Capital Journal’s afternoon edition that day.
But Johnson followed his no vote with a bold and brave move done by no one else, according to news reports.
In January 1918, he resigned from Congress and enlisted in the Army as a private to go fight in France in the war he had opposed. He didn’t have to go. He was 34 and was exempt from military service.
Congress rejected his resignation despite his absence but Johnson kept his khaki. He made sergeant within a few months, received an officer’s commission as a 2nd lieutenant in June. By September 2018 he was a 1st lieutenant in France in Company D of the 313th Infantry, in the slog that had killed millions already and now was grinding up Americans, too.
Who was this guy?
Johnson, born in Cherokee, Iowa, grew up in Highmore where his father was Hyde County state’s attorney. Johnson went to school in Highmore, known for his baseball skills. He went to Yankton College and the University of South Dakota, where he excelled in all the sports, it was said. Graduating with a law degree, he came back to Highmore to practice in 1906.
He served as local prosecutor and then as South Dakota’s attorney general, then ran for Congress in the state’s 2nd district in 1914, to serve nine terms
He married Florence Thode of New Mexico in 1907; they had sons Everett and Harlan within four years.
Johnson was said to be a rising Republican, seen as a national leader.
But he took an unusually noble path.
In a Dec. 29 1921 newspaper article in the archives of the State Historical Society in Pierre, Johnson is called “A Genuine Red-Blooded American,” and the “Only Enlisted Man Who Ever Voted in Congress.”
It’s not clear which newspaper it was from, but it appears to be from Washington or near Washington, by a reporter to talked to Johnson and those who knew him.
He started out as a private, but soon was a lieutenant, commanding a company after his superiors had been knocked out of the action in the Argonne Forest. On Sept. 26, 1918, only six weeks before the war was over, Johnson got knocked out of the war.
“I misjudged a German 77,” he would say later of the eight-foot cannon that fired 77mm shells 6 miles or more, including the one that got him.
Even wounded, he helped carry wounded comrades to the rear before he allowed medics to work on him.
While he was in a hospital in France recovering from his wounds, South Dakota voters re-elected him to Congress.
Once he got back to Washington, he received the Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart from his commanders. France’s Marshal Petain came to Washington to pin the Croix de Guerre on Johnson’s chest.
Johnson then became a fierce advocate for veterans in Congress, especially through the American Legion.
A year, nearly to the day, after Johnson was wounded, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the bill chartering the American Legion on Sept. 16, 1919.
Johnson kept veterans’ needs high on his agenda in the 1920s in Congress, especially South Dakota veterans of the war. At one point he made sure they received all the travel payments they were due, according to news reports.
Johnson left Congress in 1932 and remained a lawyer in Washington. He died Aug. 2, 1939, at 56, as a result of injuries from being hit by a car in late 1938.
In 1949, his widow, Florence, attended the dedication in Sioux Falls of the former Catholic women’s school re-named Royal C. Johnson Veterans Hospital. There were 5,000 in the audience.
Royal Johnson’s son, Harlan Johnson, became a war hero himself. The 1931 graduate of the Naval Academy flew the same Devastator torpedo bomber in World War II as did Fort Pierre’s own John Waldron against the Japanese.
Like Waldron did at Midway a few months later in 1942, Johnson crashed into the sea off Guam; unlike Waldron he survived.
Captured by the Japanese, he spent three years in a POW camp. Decorated for his courageous service, Harlan Johnson retired from the Navy in 1959 as a rear admiral. He died in Sarasota in 1994.
Johnson’s older son, Everett, was a civil engineer in the Washington area. He named his son Royal Cleaves Johnson II, after his grandfather.
On Oct. 6, 2017, Royal Cleaves Johnson II died at his Myersville, Maryland, home, his family by his side.
His obituary said he was “the grandson and namesake of Royal C. Johnson I, congressional representative from South Dakota, founder of the Veterans Administration and co-founder of the American Legion.”
(The American Legion had a year’s long beginning over several years well before the Great War and including organizing done by veterans in France after the war. Rep. Royal Johnson’s key role was in pushing the bill through Congress that gave it a federal charter, history says.)
But his role isn’t well known even in his home state by American Legion leaders.
State Commander Denny Brenden is ferrying National Commander Reistad around the state this week. Brenden knows the stories of how the American Legion was formed, at first informally, by veterans. But he told the Capital Journal on Thursday he knew nothing about Royal Johnson, the Highmore boy who grew up to be such a brave soldier and a fierce advocate for his brothers in arms.
The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where Royal Johnson earned his law degree in 1903, does not have a collection of his papers, one of the school’s librarians told the Capital Journal.
But Royal Johnson’s legacy was carried on by his sons and his grandchildren.
Johnson explained why he enlisted for the war after he had voted against it: He said it would be wrong for him to vote for appropriations “sending other women’s sons into war,” according to a biography of him on the Army-Together We Served website.
Royal C. Johnson II, who died a year ago at 82, served as an intelligence officers with the Air Force, including at the Strategic AIr Command in Omaha during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
Royal Johnson of Highmore, South Dakota also could count as his legacy the 200 or more American Legion posts around his home state and the 2 million American Legion members living all around the world.
(This article includes material from the Capital Journal’s article on Royal Johnson on April 7, 2017.)
Military Tmes: For today’s VA, it’s the best of times and the worst of times
WASHINGTON — In a White House press conference Wednesday, amid a host of other topics, President Donald Trump stated that because of his leadership “our vets are doing better than they’ve ever done.”
Yet his critics contend that over the last eight months, the Department of Veterans Affairs has never been in more disarray, with a confusing series of leadership scandals and management overhauls further diminishing public faith in the institution.
They both may be right.
“It really is the tale of two VAs right now: It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times,” said Melissa Bryant, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“We’ve had major legislative victories years in the making. But a lot of what we have seen in 2018 has been political theater, unfortunately.”
This Veterans Day, VA leaders once again find themselves at a critical moment for the department. Trump just signed into law the largest VA budget ever, topping $200 billion. Congress has given him nearly every major piece of legislation on veterans policy he has requested, including new rules that make it easier to fire poorly performing VA workers and reforms that aim to speed up the benefits claims process.
But as deadlines loom for implementing numerous health care and management initiatives, Democrats in the House are already preparing new scrutiny over how policy decisions are being made inside VA and what unplanned side effects those changes will have.
It’s a stark change from a year ago, when VA was arguably the most stable and successful part of Trump’s Cabinet.
On Veterans Day 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, then VA Secretary David Shulkin lauded the president for “strengthening our ability to provide high quality care and benefits while also improving outcomes for veterans.” Trump in a separate event lauded Shulkin for “doing an amazing job” caring for America’s former military members.
Within five months, Shulkin was fired.
Ongoing leadership woes
Shulkin’s dismissal in March set off months of leadership confusion at VA. The former secretary to this day insists he was fired because of his opposition to plans to privatize portions of VA health care that were advanced by political operatives in the Trump administration. The White House has said Shulkin resigned after the president lost faith in his leadership.
The day Shulkin’s departure was announced — on Twitter, by the president, with little advance warning to the secretary — Trump also announced his pick to replace him: White House physician Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson. The Navy officer had never worked in the department before, and his lack of experience raised concerns among veterans advocates.
Within a month, Jackson was also gone. Reports of unprofessional behavior at the White House medical office (including drinking, improper medication distribution and hostile management practices) forced him to withdraw his name from consideration.
It took Trump four months to get his next full-time VA secretary in place. During that span, key decisions on electronic medical records systems and VA health care programs were met with legal challenges asserting that Trump’s interim appointments were in violation of federal law.
When VA Secretary Robert Wilkie — a career bureaucrat with experience on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon — was confirmed, he promised to bring stable and calm leadership to the department.
But just a few weeks after he began work, a ProPublica reportdetailed how three of Trump’s business associates (all members of his exclusive Mar-a-Lago country club) were influencing a host of department plans and policies without any public scrutiny.
In the last few months, Wilkie has worked to dismiss assertions that his leadership is already undermined by the same officials who sparred with Shulkin and those outside influences. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in September, Wilkie described the department as “calm” now. He promised lawmakers he is “the sole person” leading VA.
Democratic lawmakers remain unconvinced. They’ve asked — unsuccessfully — for more information on potential outside influencers.
Meanwhile, veterans groups thus far have reported little interaction with the new secretary, a break in typical protocols for the department’s top official. While Wilkie has made numerous appearances on the topic of homelessness and drug abuse prevention in recent weeks, the new secretary maintains a significantly lower profile than Shulkin.
Privatization or choice?
Amid the leadership turmoil, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have continued to churn out a host of major bills related to veterans policy, including this summer’s VA Mission Act. The measure has the potential not only to define Trump’s legacy regarding veterans but also radically reshape the department for years to come.
Among other sweeping changes, the Mission Act calls for an overhaul to VA’s community care programs, which allow veterans to get medical appointments with private-sector doctors at the federal government’s expense. Trump has repeatedly referred to it as giving veterans “choice” in their medical care.
Wilkie and other department leaders are now in a year-long process now of hammering out the details for who will be eligible for the outside care, how much involvement in those decisions VA doctors will have, and how the pay structures will work.
“The hardest question at the heart of the Mission Act is how much should the private sector do for VA?” said Phil Carter, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation who specializes in military and veterans issues. “That influences everything else.”
About one-third of all VA medical appointments today are already conducted by physicians outside the department’s system. Supporters of further increasing outside care options argue veterans shouldn’t have to wait in VA lines for basic care they could receive in the private sector.
But critics, including federal unions, argue the that real goal of these moves is to siphon federal money into outside companies, providing less specialized care while crippling the existing VA hospitals’ ability to meet veterans’ needs. They’ve labeled many of Trump’s proposals as a “privatization” of the department’s mission.
Wilkie, in his confirmation hearing this summer, said he wholeheartedly opposes privatizing VA services, but left ambiguity in that definition.
“If we believe that the veteran is central, we can also make the argument that as long as VA is at the central node in his care, and that that veteran has a day-to-day experience with the VA … that reinforces the future of VA,” he told senators. “That’s what I believe in.”
The debate over where to draw those lines was already contentious before the midterm elections. Now, with Democrats set to take over the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee agenda, the issue of private-sector care is likely to dominate much of the conversation in months to come.
In September, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. and the leading candidate to be chairman of the veterans committee in January, promised in a letter to colleagues to “make necessary reforms to the Veterans Health Administration … while rejecting conservatives’ calls to privatize health care.”
Other fights ahead
That’s not the only Trump administration priority in the crosshairs.
Several lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns over VA’s planned move to a shared electronic health record with the Department of Defense, hailed by Trump and Shulkin as a game-changer for veterans care.
If successful, the multi-year project would more easily allow veteran patients to access and share their medical history, from the first day they enlist to their geriatric appointments. But while praising the idea, lawmakers have questioned whether the effort is properly funded and managed.
The same goes for VA staffing. Trump has promised to bring in more doctors and oust staffers who are performing poorly. Democrats have charged that Trump’s VA has instead used accountability legislation from 2017 to fire low-level employees without filling other much-needed positions.
“Everything is in the air right now,” said Joe Chenelly, national executive director at AMVETS. “We don’t know what the Mission Act will look like. We don’t know how health records are going to be. We don’t know about these budget cuts that Trump has talked about for federal departments.
“There are just a ton of questions unanswered.”
Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to start a new hotline for veterans complaints has earned some goodwill from the community, but individuals using the service have reported mixed results with getting answers on their problems.
His VA has received harsher reviews for its opposition to paying benefits to “blue water” veterans who served in Vietnam and claim toxic exposure to chemical defoliants. And in recent months, dissatisfaction has risen among student veterans as another round of benefits payouts issues has plagued the post-9/11 GI Bill system.
In the September 2018 Military Times poll of active-duty troops, more than 40 percent said they had an unfavorable view of VA. Only 20 percent described their feelings as favorable.
Wilkie has acknowledged that along with his policy priorities, rebuilding public trust in the institution is a critical part of his work ahead.
“The state of VA is better,” he told senators at the September hearing. “I didn’t say good or excellent. It is better. And I do think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Military Times: As more female vets head to Congress, there’s a new push to change VA’s male-focused motto
By:Leo Shane III   15 hours ago
WASHINGTON — After three new female veterans won election in Tuesday’s midterms, two female Democratic lawmakers are again pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its motto to “be more inclusive to women.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Kathleen Rice, both from New York, introduced new legislation Thursday for VA to update the current mission statement from “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” to a less gender-specific phrase.
The current motto comes from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, as a charge for the country to look after the veterans of the Civil War.
Rice and Gillibrand charge the current language “fails to recognize the service and sacrifice of the thousands of women in uniform.” They are proposing changing the language to “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
VA officials in the past have strongly objected to the idea, arguing in favor of preserving the historical accuracy of Lincoln’s quote.
The lawmakers called that opposition disappointing.
“As women continue to play an increasingly vital role in our armed forces, they’ve become a larger and more prominent part of our veteran community,” Rice said in a statement. “But unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs mission statement simply does not reflect that reality.
“The brave women who have worn our nation’s uniform and their families deserve to be equally embraced by the motto of the very agency meant to support them.”
Officials from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have made the motto change a key focus in recent years, working with lawmakers like Rice to find ways around VA’s opposition.
Allison Jaslow, former executive director of IAVA, said the motto change is needed to send a message throughout the department.
“With its motto, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is telling women veterans and survivors of fallen women service members that they aren’t seen, that they don’t matter,” she said.
“Modernizing the VA’s motto isn’t a matter of political correctness, but respect for the over 2 million women veterans in America today.”
An estimated 345,000 women have deployed overseas since 2001. About 16 percent of the active-duty force are women.
Four female veterans are currently serving in Congress: Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., in the Senate; Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., in the House. All four served overseas In Iraq or Afghanistan.
McSally’s bid for Arizona’s open Senate seat is still being tallied. If she wins, the number of female veterans will jump to at least seven next session, with Democrats Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elaine Luria of Virginia and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania winning contests this week.
The legislation faces long odds of passage given the short schedule remaining for Congress this year, but its introduction now could build additional attention on the topic for next session, when a Democratic-led House may be more receptive to the change.
Associated Press: :In the last hours of World War I, a terrible toll
militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/11/08/in-the-final-hours-of-world-war-i-a-terrible-toll/
Raf Casert, The Associated PressNovember 8, 2018
VRIGNE-MEUSE, France — Augustin Trebuchon is buried beneath a white lie.
His tiny plot is almost on the front line where the guns finally fell silent at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after a four-year war that had already killed millions.
A simple white cross says: "Died for France on Nov. 10, 1918."
Not so.
Like hundreds of others along the Western Front, Trebuchon was killed in combat on the morning of Nov. 11 — after the pre-dawn agreement between the Allies and Germany but before the armistice took effect six hours later.
His death at almost literally the eleventh hour only highlighted the folly of a war that had become ever more incomprehensible to many in nations drawn into the first global conflict.
The grave marker of French World War I soldier Augustin Trebuchon in Vrigne-Meuse, France, is shown on Oct. 30. 2018. His tiny plot is almost on the front line where the guns finally fell silent at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after a four-year war that had already killed millions. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

Before Nov. 11, the war had killed 14 million people, including 9 million soldiers, sailors and airmen from 28 countries. Germany came close to a quick, early victory before the war settled into hellish trench fighting. One battle, like the Somme in France, could have up to 1 million casualties. The use of poison gas came to epitomize the ruthlessness of warfare that the world had never seen.
For the French, who lost up to 1.4 million troops, it was perhaps too poignant — or too shameful — to denote that Trebuchon had been killed on the very last morning, just as victory finally prevailed.
"Indeed, on the tombs it said ‘Nov. 10, 1918,’ to somewhat ease the mourning of families," said French military historian Nicolas Czubak.
There were many reasons why men kept falling until the call of the bugler at 11 a.m.: fear that the enemy would not abide by the armistice, a sheer hatred after four years of unprecedented slaughter, the ambition of commanders craving a last victory, bad communications, the inane joy of killing.
As the hours ticked down, villages were taken, attacks were thwarted with heavy losses and rivers were crossed under enemy fire. Questions remain whether the gains were worth all the human losses.
Historian Joseph Persico estimated the total dead, wounded and missing on all sides on the final day was 10,900.
U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing, who had been bent on continuing the fighting, even had to explain to Congress the high number of last-day losses.
American soldiers wave their helmets after the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice was signed in France, ending World War I. (Associated Press)
Other nations also endured such casualties.
With two minutes to go, 25-year-old Canadian Pvt. George Lawrence Price was slain by a German sniper.
About 150 miles away in France, a 23-year-old American, Henry Gunther, was killed by German machine-gun fire one minute before the armistice.
Trebuchon, 40, also was shot minutes before the cease-fire. He was running to tell his comrades where and when they would have a meal after the armistice.
All three are considered their nations’ last men to fall in active combat.
HE DIED AT 10:59
Anti-German sentiment ran high after the United States declared war in April 1917, and Gunther and his family in Baltimore were subjected to the kind of prejudice and suspicion that many of German descent faced at the time.
"It was not a good time to be German in the United States," said historian Alec Bennett.
Gunther had little choice when he got drafted. He was given the rank of sergeant, but he later was demoted when he wrote a letter home critical of the conditions in the war.
Soon after, he was thrown into the biggest U.S. battle of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive in northeastern France.
There were reports he was still brooding over his demotion right on Nov. 11. When he emerged from a thick fog in the valley around Chaumont-devant-Damvillers, he and his comrades faced a German machine gun nest on the hillside.
Indications are that the Germans fired one salvo over his head as a warning, knowing the war was almost over. But he still charged onward.
"His time of death was 10:59 a.m., which is just so haunting," Bennett said. Gunther was recognized by Pershing as the last American to die on the battlefield.

100 years ago, US fought its deadliest battle in France
It was America’s deadliest battle ever, with 26,000 U.S. soldiers killed, tens of thousands wounded and more ammunition fired than in the whole of the Civil War. The Meuse-Argonne offensive of 1918 was also a great American victory that helped bringing an end to World War One.
By: Sylvie Corbet and Oleg Cetinic, The Associated Press
Questions remain whether it was a suicide run, an attempt at redemption or an act of true devotion.
"It is just as puzzling now as it was 100 years ago," Bennett said, adding that one thing is clear: "Gunther’s act is seen as almost a symbol of the futility of the larger war."
But there was one more cruel twist for his family: They were unaware he had been killed.
Upon his expected return "they went to the train station to meet Henry — not there!" said Bruce Malone, superintendent of Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, the final resting place for 100 Americans who died Nov. 11.
A memorial to U.S. soldier Henry Gunther is perched on a hill where he died in Chaumont-devant-Damvillers, France. Henry Gunther’s time of death was recorded at 10:59 a.m. He was recognized by Gen. John Pershing as the last American to die on the battlefront. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)
“A NEED TO KILL ONE LAST TIME”
The death of Price, the Canadian, was an utterly senseless loss of life.
He was a farm laborer in Saskatchewan when the swirl of history plucked him off the land in October 1917 as the Allies sought ever more manpower for the Western Front.
The summer after he was drafted, he was part of the surge of victories that seized villages and cities right up to Nov. 11. By that time, Canadians were retaking Mons in southern Belgium, where soldiers from the British Commonwealth had their very first battle with the Germans in August 1914.
It was especially sweet for the Commonwealth commanders to retake the city, bringing the war full circle where they lost their first soldier, English Pvt. John Parr, on Aug. 21, 1914.
Price decided to check out homes along the canals while civilians in the center of Mons had already broken out the wine and whiskey they had hidden for years from the Germans to celebrate with the Canadians.
Suddenly, a shot rang out and Price collapsed.
"It really was one man, here and there, who was driven by vengeance, by a need to kill one last time," said Belgian historian Corentin Rousman.
The final minutes counted not just for the casualties but also for the killers.
"There are rules in war," Rousman said. "There is always the possibility to kill two minutes before a cease-fire. Two minutes after, the German would have had to stand before a judge. That’s the difference."
At the St. Symphorien cemetery just outside Mons, Price, the last Commonwealth soldier killed in the war, lies a stone’s throw from Parr, the first.
"He is not forgotten," Rousman said of Price. "It’s a soldier whose tomb is often draped in flowers."
George Barkhouse, shown in 2014, looks out to where his uncle, Pvt. George Lawrence Price, was killed in Ville-sur-Haine, Belgium on Nov. 11, 1918, just two minutes before the Armistice. Price is known as the last Canadian soldier to die on the Western Front in the First World War. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)
“PART OF THIS GREAT PATRIOTIC MOMENTUM”
Trebuchon’s grave stands out because of the date, underscoring the random fortunes of war.
He was a shepherd from France’s Massif Central and could have avoided the war as a family breadwinner at age 36.
"But he was part of this great patriotic momentum," said Jean-Christophe Chanot, the mayor of Vrigne-Meuse, where he died.
Trebuchon knew misery as part of France’s most brutal battles — Marne, Somme, Verdun. He survived right up to his last order — to tell soldiers where to gather after the armistice.
Instead, his body was found with a bullet wound to the head. He was recognized as "the last French soldier killed during the last French attack against the Germans," Chanot said.
The date on his grave — Nov. 10, 1918 — remains controversial, even if it was meant to soothe a family’s sorrow.
"It was a lie, without a question," said Czubak, the French historian.
— Photojournalist Virginia Mayo and video journalist Mark Carlson contributed.

Marine Corps Times: This Marine survived both the California bar shooting and Las Vegas concert shooting
marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-military/2018/11/09/this-marine-survived-both-the-california-bar-shooting-and-las-vegas-concert-shooting/
By Andrea ScottNovember 8, 2018
Your Marine Corps
When a masked gunman entered country line dance Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, on Wednesday and started firing rounds, 22-year-old Marine Brendan Kelly knew from the first few pops what was going on.
“Being in the military, being in the Marine Corps, I’m aware of what that sounds like, especially in an enclosed area,” Kelly told ABC 7.
Kelly had been in a similarly tragic situation before: He was a 2017 concertgoer at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas during the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman had opened fire on the Vegas strip concert, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500.

Marine veteran and local Team RWB chapter captain killed in California shooting
Dan Manrique was a Marine veteran and head of the Ventura, California, chapter for Team Red, White & Blue.
By: Shawn Snow
In the California shooting, like Vegas, Kelly’s Marine Corps training took over, he said. He threw people around him to the ground, and once he identified where the shooting was coming from grabbed the people closest to him and headed to the nearest exit.
Kelly told the Associated Press that he used his belt, the T-shirt off his back and his Marine Corps training to apply a tourniquet to a friend’s bleeding arm.
“There’s not time for emotions to be involved, you have to do,” he told ABC. “You have to act. Because people’s lives are on the line.”
The suspected gunman, Ian David Long, also had served in the Marines. He had deployed with the Corps during the surge Afghanistan in 2010 as a machine gunner.
This experience hit way too close to home for Kelly.
“Borderline was our safe space … for the probably 30 to 45 of us that were all from the Ventura County area that were in Vegas,” Kelly told ABC.
Gunfire killed a Navy veteran who had lived through the shooting in Vegas just over one year ago. After the Route 91 shooting, Borderline had held a benefit concert for people from the local area who were killed.
“The only, only thing I can contribute to is God," Kelly said. "His protective hand over me that night, on Oct. 1, and last night.”
Kelly made news after the Las Vegas shooting for saving the life of a woman he had met two hours before.
"Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire,” Renee Cesario wrote on Facebook.
Marine veteran and Ventura, California, Team Red, White & Blue chapter captain Dan Manrique was among the twelve killed in Wednesday’s shooting.
Manrique had “served with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, as a radio operator, and deployed to the Middle East in 2007 with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit," according to a memorial page on Team RWB’s website.

John B. Raughter
Deputy Director, Media Relations
Phone: (317) 630-1350 Fax: (317) 630-1368

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