Tag Archives: 1917

1917 Football Team

1917 7-1
Did not play Navy
Coach: Geoffrey Keyes (7-1)



from Howitzer 1919


from Howitzer 1920 – November 1918 – graduated early




Howitzer 1919


Howitzer 1920 – November 18 class “Orioles” returned from WWI

Football Interest Centres in the Clash on Plains Between Notre Dame and Cadets.
The football enthusiasts who journey to West Point today to see the Army eleven battle with Notre Dame may see a repetition of the spectacular intersectional game of 1913, when the Westerners invaded the plains and gave the East a much needed lesson in the use of the forward pass.

GRIM GAME OF WAR TRIPS ARMY TEAM Defeat by Notre Dame Proves Football Only Secondary at West Point.
…Notre Dame Checks Oliphant.
The effect of the grim game of war on the game of football was evident at West Point Saturday when the Army team bowed in defeat before Notre Dame.





Robert Earl Symmonds

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.
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George Wilbur Sackett

No. 5678. Class of (April) 1917. During an attack in the Argonne, Captain Sackett was struck by several machine gun bullets while leading his men to the assault. He died a few minutes later, October 14, 1918, at Cunel, France. Age 26 years.
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Charles Dashiel Harris

No. 5745. Class of 1918 (Aug., 1917). On the morning of October 20, 1918, Company B and two other companies of the 6th Engineers went “over the top” behind an infantry regiment. When the Regiment failed, Captain Harris leg the Engineers forward being mortally wounded near Aincreville, France. Aged 20 years.

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Stewart Whiting Hoover

No. 5712. Class of April 1917. Captain Hoover was killed at the head of his company during a desperate encounter with German storm trocps. March 1, 1918, in France, aged 22. The 1st West Pointer to be Killed in WWI, 18th Inf 1st Division
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Francis Eugene Dougherty

No. 5620 Class of April 1917. Captain Dougherty when in the midst of our attack in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, the enemy laid down a heavy counter barrage and a shell bursting a few feet from Captain Dougherty wounded him seriously. Died October 16, 1918, Aged 23 years.
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Edward William Leonard

No. 5727 Class of April, 1917. Captain Leonard was in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. It was in the latter near Romagne, France, that he was killed by a high explosive shell, while successfully leading his company in the attack on German positions, of October 14, 1918. Aged 23 years.

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Josephus Benjamin Wilson

No. 5870 Class of 1918 (Aug. 1917). Captain Wilson was noticed to go down on one knee, just as a large shell struck close by him, however, he was up again in a second and bravely struggled forward. Advancing about twenty feet he fell mortally wounded on October 15th, near Ferme Madeline – close by the village of Cunel, France, October 15, 1918. Aged 21 years.

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Daves Rossell

No. 5639 Class of April, 1917. Captain Rossell was returning from a reconnaissance, prior to leading his company in an attack, when without warning a shell burst just above, mortally wounding him, October 13, 1918, in France north of Verdun. Aged 23 years.

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Henry Henley Chapman

No. 5733, Class of April 20, 1917. He fell on the field of honor while leading his men over the top in the first wave of the great attack of the Thirtieth Division that broke the Hindenberg line at Bellicourt, about four miles north of St. Quentin, and where the St. Quentin Canal enters the tunnel September 29, 1918. Aged 24 years.

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Thurston Elmer Wood

5749. Class of 1918 (Aug., 1917)

“And then I heard yelling, ‘Au secours! Les camarades! Je suis mort!

And Again – The horses were very near the guns and your brother was standing in the open encouraging the drivers and seeing that all men and animals were gotten under cover. Killed in action July 21, 1918, near Vierzy, France, aged 21 years.

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Earle Adams Billings

Photo page 60 Annual Report – http://www.library.usma.edu/index.cfm?TabID=6&LinkCategoryID=49#46

5889. Class of 1918 (Aug., 1917)
Killed in action July 18, 1918, at Vaux, France, aged 24 years.

First Lieutenant Earle Adams Billings, 9th Infantry, U. S. A., son of Charles and Grace Akers Billings, was born April 1, 1894, at Gor- ham, Maine. He received his earlier education in the public schools of Gorham and Portland, Maine, graduating from the latter High School. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy from the First District, Maine, and entered the same in June, 1914, as a member of the Class of 1918.

His career at the Academy was one of which anyone might well be proud in that he graduated with his class in August, 1917, nine months prior to the date set for the graduation of the Class of 1918. His kindness and thoughtfulness toward everyone with whom he came in contact was distinctively prominent in his every act and those characteristics, coupled closely with his loyalty, integrity and his everlasting determination to succeed through squareness to others, gained for him from his classmates a profound respect and admiration.

Lieut. Billings upon graduating was assigned to the 9th Infantry, which at that time was overseas. He was one of the few officers of
his class who was fortunate enough to receive an assignment to a
unit which had already embarked for foreign service.

Before sailing, he was married to Miss Ruth Dingley Jenkins, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Welsey Jenkins of Portland, Maine, on October 10th, 1917. He was with her only until November 2, 1917, at which time he sailed for England. He remained in London but a few days and then joined his regiment, the 9th Infantry, in France and was with it until sometime in January, 1918, when he was detailed to an officers’ school as an instructor. In the latter part of March, 1918, he was appointed range officer, which duty he performed until the thirtieth of May when he was sent to the front to rejoin his organization and was with the 9th Infantry up to the time of his death on July 18, 1918.

Prior to his death he was cited in orders and mentioned in French newspapers for bravery in action, since which time his wife has received a Croix de Guerre from the French Government.

Following is extract from Order.

General Headquarters of the Armies of the North and Northeast.
Personnel Bureau. Order No. 11,462. “D” Extract. (Decorations.)

With the approbation of the Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the General Commander in Chief of the French Armies of the North and Northeast cites in the Order of the Army Corps:

First Lieutenant Earle A. Billings, 9th Reg., Inf.
“July 1, 1918, at Vaux, he led his men to the assault under violent
bombardment without losing track of the wounded. He himself saw too that they were carried to the rear. Inspired his men by his bravery
and his coolness.” * * *

At General Headquarters, November 11, 1918.
The General Commander in Chief.

From a French newspaper:
“First Lieut. Earle A. Billings, 9th Infantry, led his men through heavy barrage, working continuously during the entire bombardment, locating and directing evacuation of the wounded. By his valor and coolness, in spite of high explosive and gas shelling, he was an incentive to his men. This at Vaux, July 1, 1918.”

Following is extract from letter written to Mrs. Billings by the Commanding Officer Co. A, 9th Infantry:

Ninth Infantry, France, Sept. 18, 1918.
My Dear Mrs. Billings:

Earle was second in command of Company A when we started over the top on the morning of the 18th. He was assigned to command of the left wing of the company. We had gone about 1500 yards when I was notified that Earle was wounded-I believe by machine-gun fire. I immediately sent two men to assist him, but had to continue the advance without being able to see him. It was not until after the engagement that I learned of his death. He had been killed by shell fire. This occurred south of Soissons, about 500 yards southwest of Beaurepaire Farm. He was buried in the same locality with other officers of the 9th who fell on the “Field of Honor.”

I offer you my heartfelt sympathy. The whole regiment shares with you the sadness of your loss. But in your grief please remember that Earle gave his life for a noble cause; his sacrifice has not been offered in vain. Earle fell while gallantly and fearlessly leading his men in action. The whole Company loved him and would have followed him anywhere. While he served under me I twice had the pleasure of recommending him for distinguished conduct in the face of the enemy, from which I hope you will hear further.
I shall not ask you to bear your loss bravely, for I know that you shall, for anyone related to Earle could not do otherwise.

Most sincerely,
Captain 9th Infantry.

All of us who knew Earle can easily realize the deep sorrow which must surround the relatives, particularly the mother and the young wife of the deceased, who like many other mothers and wives of America made sacrifices and played such an important part in making the world safe for Democracy.

The Class of 1918 extends to the parents, wife and relatives of Lieutenant Billings their profound sympathy for their loss which is only made easier to bear in taking pride in his bravery knowing that he so nobly did his duty in the time of intense danger, with coolness and little regard for himself, all of which is symbolical of the motto we all love so well-Duty, Honor, Country.

R.H. Place

Croix de Guerre from the French Government

Enter – Billings Earle at – http://www.abmc.gov/search/wwi.php

John McEwan

Class of April 1917 – 4 Army A’s in Football as a Center – The Football Teams beat Navy in 1913, 1914, 1915, and in 1916

In the anatomy of a game: football, the rules, and the men who made the game By David M. Nelson — it appears to be the same John and his name is listed as McEwen


John McEwan player/coach

John J McEwan

Editors Note – Not sure which orientation is correct.

John J McEwan

College Football Hall of Fame Biography

John McEwan was an innovator among players of the early 1900’s, pioneering the spiral center-snap and introducing a primitive version of the defensive rover-back to Eastern football. Upon graduation from West Point in 1917, McEwan was hailed as the greatest football center the U.S. Military Academy ever had. Walter Camp labeled him first-team All- America in 1914.

As a senior in 1916, McEwan was elected team captain by his Cadet peers. Tim Cohane, longtime sports editor of LOOK MAGAZINE and author of “Gridiron Grenadiers”, described McEwan thusly: “Big Mac, in his prime, weighed from 195 to 205 and stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall. He was built like a heavyweight fighter. His broad shoulders tapered down to slim hips and comparatively thin legs, which brought him frequent but not inactivating knee injuries.” McEwan was unusually fast for a man of his size and became known for his ability to cover large areas of the field while exhibiting a tremendous tackling and blocking prowess. Seven years after his graduation, the Alexandria, Minnesota native returned to West Point as head football coach. During his three coaching seasons, his Army teams rolled to an 18-5- 3 record. He went on to coach Oregon, Holy Cross and the professional Brooklyn Dodgers. He died in 1970.