No. 5477. Class of 1916 Reported in list of casualties August 4, 1918, as “Killed in Action”, aged 23 years DSC
When the casualty lists of early August, 1918, came to us we learned that Major John Howard Wills, Class of 1916, had laid down his life for the cause for which we are fighting.
Major Wills was born in Auburn, Alabama, on June 21, 1895, the son of Nannie Fleming Wills and Lieutenant John H. Wills, Class of 1881. He spent his boyhood days in Auburn and received his early education there, in the Primary and High Schools. After
finishing High School he attended the Alabama Polytechnic Institute for two and one half years. In his Junior year he left the Institute to prepare for entrance to the Military Academy.
He was appointed to the Academy from the Third Alabama District and entered on June 15, 1912, prior to his seventeenth birthday. He was the youngest member of his class.
In spite of his youth, his hard work and natural abilities led him, at graduation, to the highest position of honor.
As a cadet his life was saddened by the death of his mother, leaving him an orphan, for his father had died while he was still a baby.
He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Engineers June 13, 1916, and promoted to First Lieutenancy July 1, 1916. He was promoted to Captain on May 15, 1917, and was appointed temporarily a Major in the Corps of Engineers, early in April, 1918.
He was assigned to the First Regiment of Engineers after Graduation, went to France with that Regiment, and, as far as we are able to learn, was still on duty with it at the time of his death.
The Class of 1916 and the Army suffer an irreparable loss by the death of this classmate and officer. Johnny, as he was affectionately known by his classmates and friends, possessed a strong end lovable character. His never failing good humor, his sunny disposition, his generosity, and his ready willingness to aid his less gifted classmates, made him universally admired and esteemed. Our sadness for his loss is tempered by our deep feeling of pride for this son of our Alma Mater, who has made the supreme sacrifice for his country.
Hall of Valor <bnr>
Alabama in European War