By PVT Al Barker, No 118, 43rd CO, 5th Reg, US Marines
The US declared war upon Germany April 6, 1917. I was going to college at the time. I went to spend a weekend in New York City and happened to be in Union Square where recruiting of soldiers, sailors, and marines were taking place. A captain of the US Navy was speaking on patriotism. As I stood there and listened a thrill went through me and I decided to enlist at once. I chose the marines because they were always the “first to fight”. I was sent to Paris Island, South Carolina, for my training, where I spent three months, and on August 12, 1917, I was sent to Quantico, VA., for my overseas equipment. On August 21, 1917, I sailed for France.
The trip across was a very eventful one as we were twice shot at by submarines, but we succeeded in eluding them. Nine days later we arrived at Brest, France, where we were all stationed in barracks. My first real training began in France; drilled from morning to night, together with such things as trench digging, bayonet fighting, grenade throwing, and all other things necessary to an American marine. This lasted about three months. My first real encounter occurred when we were ordered to the Belgian Front with Australian Anzacs. There I had my first glimpse of the Germans. We battled with them for twelve hours and I received a bayonet thrust in my right foot which laid me up for three weeks, and I was sent to base hospital No. 3 near St. Lazarre. After I recovered I was again sent to the Belgian Front where, in the next encounter with the Germans, I was captured and sent to a prison camp, built in the German trenches. I was there with eight other marines, for twenty-one days, when a French air squadron descended upon the Germans and killed or wounded all of them. A French aviator–I do not recall his name–took me in his machine and we flew 102 miles to the French forces.
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In honor of Memorial Day, I volunteered for Bugles Across America. I encourage everyone who is able to volunteer as well, and if you can’t there’s a section where you can make a donation.
The last time I played Taps on a bugle was in 2006, Memorial Day in Boston for the homeless vets at the New England Shelter for Homeless Vets. I’m going to start practicing on my trombone until I can get another bugle(I sold my bugle a few years ago).
From the site:
Volunteer For Bugles Across America
We’re always looking for enthusiastic men and women to help with our organization.
Bugler Volunteers can be male or female. They can play a traditional bugle with no valves, or they can perform the ceremony on a Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn, or a 1, 2 or 3 valved bugle. The bugler can be of any age as long as they can play the 24 notes of Taps with an ease and style that will do honor to both the Veterans, their and families.
If you are interested in volunteering, please click here to fill your registration form. Upon receiving your registration details, one of our State Directors will contact you to learn more about your skills and how you’d like to help Bugles Across America. Your registration information will be visible only to State Directors/Admin, and is not shared with anyone else. Bugles Across America does not sell membership list information.
Thank you for supporting this valuable cause.
BY PVT. JACK KNEELAND, NO. 105, 43RD CO., 5TH
REGT., U. S. MARINES
WHEN the great World War was raging, and the United States were preparing for any trouble that might occur between her and the Teutonic Government, I was playing in vaudeville. April 6th we received word that our Government declared war on Germany. Immediately I decided to quit the show business and go into the service, but what branch I did not know as I was unfamiliar with the different outfits of Uncle Sam’s noble army and navy. As I was walking down the street I happened to notice different recruiting officers, appealing to the men to enlist in the several outfits we have, for the sake of our folks at home, and for democracy. I happened to think of the navy as a good chance, but as I wished to be in the thick of the battles and excitement I decided it was either the army or the United States Marines. While I was trying to fix my mind on what I should do, a marine sergeant came and started talking to me and asked me what I was going to do. I told him I was ready for the worst, and that I was anxious to go across the water and do my bit. He said that the United States Marines was the place for me, a boy with the spirit Americans wanted. Well, it did not take me long to make up my mind, and shortly I was being examined by the doctor for physical fitness. I was confident I would pass the rigid test that is given to the marines as I had never had an illness of any kind in my life. After the examination I was told I was 100 percent perfect, and sworn in as a private in the soldiers of the sea, as we call the marines. First to fight on land and sea. Three days later I was called to depart for Paris Island, S. C., where I was to get my training. I arrived the 15th of April and was immediately sent to a quarantine station where all preparations were given, such as clothes, finger prints taken, and then I was finally sworn in once more, on the 21st day of April. After all these proceedings were over, I was sent to the maneuvering ground where the greatest task lay. We drilled from morning until late in the evening, but I did not mind it as I knew that it was for a good purpose. Digging trenches, hand grenade practice, bayonet drills and rifle practice were our continual routine, for fully three months. I was then transferred to Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, for duty, where I was assigned to the 5th Regiment to be ready for overseas duty.
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