Graduated August 30th 1917. In the afternoon of November 3, 1918, he took command of Company D which at the time was heavily engaged with the enemy in the Meuse – Argonne offensive. That night D Company made an attack upon a ridge just south of Beaumont. It was while leading his company in this attack that he was mortally wounded. He was removed to a nearby hospital, where he died November 22, 1918 in France. Age 24 years.
Robert Earl Symmonds was born November 30, 1894. He came from a distinguished army family, his great grandfather being Brigadier General Earl D. Thomas of the Class of 1869, U. S. M. A., and his father Brigadier General Charles J. Symmonds of the Class of 1890, U. S. M. A.
Captain Symmonds entered the Military Academy in June, 1914. He soon endeared himself to those with whom he came in contact by his never-failing good humor and quiet friendliness. He graduated on August 30, 1917, and was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont. In December, 1917, he was assigned to Headquarters Troop, 2nd Division, and proceeded overseas. On June 27, 1918, he was promoted to be a temporary Captain of Cavalry. While with the above organization he took part in the fighting at Belleau Woods, Soissons, and St. Mihiel.
He then left the division, taking a short course of instruction at the Machine Gun School at Sangres, on the completion of which he was reassigned to the 2nd Division and ordered to report for duty with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion. On the afternoon of November 3, 1918, he reported to the commanding officer of this organization, which was then heavily engaged with the enemy in the Meuse – Argonne offensive. Upon reporting he requested the commanding officer that he be assigned to a company that was in actual contact with the enemy. He was consequently placed in command of Company D, which that very night made an attack upon a ridge just south of Beaumont. It was while leading his company in this attack that he was mortally wounded. He was removed to a nearby hospital, where he died November 22, 1918.
The foregoing facts were given in a letter by his commanding officer. This letter also contained the following statement:
“The above incidents remain clear in my mind on account of the fact that Captain Symmonds, instead of awaiting orders for somewhere in the rear echelon, went forward to the front line where he knew he would get into action and then requested that he be placed with a company that was engaged with the enemy, thus displaying remarkable qualities of bravery and leadership.”
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