Antonio G, Pedone

Antonio Pedone

World War I Veteran

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Corporal Antonio Guillermo Pedone, U.S. Army & Pennsylvania National Guard 28th Division, American Expeditionary Force, World War I 12 January 1896 – 8 February 1965 (Age 69)  

Written &  Prepared by his grandson, Stephen Peter Pedone, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.

A resident of Naples, Florida

Edited for this website by Commander Web

Introduction

His is a true twentieth-century American success story that began with a seventeen-year-old,

Antonio Pedone, was an Italian-speaking, Ellis Island immigrant, from Casamasima, Italy, near Bari. Antonio came to America in 1913 to find opportunity, build a better life and raise a family.   That patriarch was my grandfather, Antonio Guillermo (Anthony William) Pedone, commonly known as “Tony”.

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Italian Flag

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American Flag

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Corporal Anthony (Tony)

 

Antonio Pedone first settled in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and worked on the railroad.   At the same time, he served in the 7th Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard.   His division was mobilized in 1916 to go into Mexico with General Pershing to capture the bandit Poncho Villa.   This was called the “Punitive Expedition”, and involved the first use of aircraft and motorized vehicles in an Army operation.  It has been called the “dry-run” for our WWI participation.

In response to World War I

The Pennsylvania National Guard 7th Division was drafted into federal service again on Aug. 5, 1917.    Antonio Pedone was again mobilized to become one the first Americans sent to France to become General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to defeat the Germans in World War I.  He was promoted to Corporal and served as a front-line motorcycle courier and machine-gunner, surviving being shot twice and gassed. He was awarded several U.S. & French military honor medals.  Upon arriving in the U.S., he marched in New York City with General Pershing and the victorious AEF troops returning from France.

He met and married his wife, Graciela (Grace) Rella, a recent Ellis Island immigrant from the same town in Italy, and they began to live together in Mt. Vernon, New York.  They assimilated into the American culture, learned English, worked hard and entered the middle class, owning a beautiful home, and raised their family.   Then became naturalized American citizens, and afterward, their three children, two sons, and a daughter were first-generation Americans born in the United States.   Their two sons earned the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Medal.   All three children went to college and became professionals,  serving as officers in the U.S. Military during World War II.

Anthony was a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and participated in Veterans’ Day parades. He was proud to be an American and a WWI Veteran.

Antonio Pedone is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, with his wife Grace and son Stephen.   Eight members of four generations of his Pedone family are or will be buried in three adjoining graves in the old section of Arlington National Cemetery.   There is no greater honor.   His is a true “American success story”.

“America’s Dry Run for WWI” – The “Punitive Expedition”  1916-1917

The Punitive Expedition, officially known in the United States as the “Mexican Expedition”, was a specific military operation conducted by the United States Army against the paramilitary forces of Mexican revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa from 1916 to early 1917.

Antonio Pedone was a Private in the 7th Division, Pennsylvania National Guard.  The Pennsylvania 7th was “activated” on 3 June 1916, to participate in the Punitive Expedition.   Private Anthony Pedone would travel by train with the 7th Division to the Texas-Mexico border area and deploy to El Paso, Texas, to join General Pershing and pursue the Mexican bandit Pancho Villa and his men, called “Villistas”, who were attacking American border towns.

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Pancho Villa (Center) with his “Villistas” Men

 

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General Pershing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Private Antonio Pedone

Antonio Pedone experienced the long, slow train ride to the Texas-Mexico border, and later the return trip to Pennsylvania. The American Southwest can be very hot and dusty.   Living conditions in the temporary tent Army camps were basic and uncomfortable.

He served as a motorcycle courier, taking messages to and from advanced Army units patrolling in Mexico.   It was a challenging and sometimes dangerous assignment.   His personal training, endurance, and performance as part of an integral operational combat unit were invaluable & prepared him for what he would face soon – danger in World War I, in France.

Private Antonio Pedone was now truly an American Soldier  

Private Antonio Pedone and his fellow National Guardsmen of the Pennsylvania 7th Division made to long train trip back to Pennsylvania and were mustered out of federal service in Philadelphia on 23 February 1917.  This 1916-17 Punitive Expedition military operation would help the U.S. military better train and prepare for the U.S. eventual engagement in World War I, that same year, 1917.   The mobilization provided the U.S. Army with a valuable “rehearsal” for the mobilization build-up that would soon begin again for World War I.  While the expedition was only partially successful, it marked a turning point in American military operations.  The U.S. Army’s first use of motorized vehicles, tanks, and aircraft in combat operations introduced and refined new logistics and offensive military tactics. The lessons learned energized the U.S. Army leaders to begin correcting the deficiencies in the soldier’s equipment, training, organization, and tactics, to better prepare them to successfully wage modern conventional warfare.  This moment in American history was truly a critically important “wake-up call”!

World War I – American Expeditionary Force (AEF) France 1917-1919

  Introduction

Within a few months after Private Antonio Pedone made the long train ride returning to Pennsylvania from the Punitive Expedition into Mexico in early 1917.  The U.S. Army again mobilized the old 7th Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, and it was re-organized as the 28th Division.   Tony and his fellow soldiers of the 28th Division would soon join the first U.S. forces arriving in France in 1917.  As the initial cadre of the U.S. American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General Pershing, to fight in World War I.   The soldiers of the 28th Division, comprised of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen, were some of the better trained and most prepared soldiers of American forces deployed to France.

General Pershing

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Soldiers of the WWI American Expeditionary Force (AEF) 1917-19

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US Army Recruitment Poster

The 28th Infantry Division traces its history to the militia organized by Benjamin Franklin in. 1747, known as “The Pennsylvania Associators”.  The Division’s lineage extends from the 7th Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard, officially established in 1879.  The 7th Division was mustered into federal service on 29 June 1916, to participate in the Punitive Expedition along the Texas-Mexican border region, and mustered out of federal service on 23 February 1917, in Philadelphia.

 

                  
In August 1917, the 28th Infantry Division was formed from units of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and is the oldest division-sized unit in the armed forces of the United States.

Keystone Division

The 28th is nicknamed the “Keystone Division” since Pennsylvania is the “Keystone State.”  During WWI, General Pershing would call his 28th Division the “Iron Division” for their aggressive stand against the Germans. Later, in WWII, the German forces would call the 28th Division “The Bloody Bucket” division due to its red insignia. The 28th Division continues its service today as part of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

After the 28th Division and the other AEF divisions arrived in France and receiving some needed military equipment and training from the British and French.  They would join the Allies to defend Paris, break the deadly stalemate of trench warfare which the Allies had been fighting for several years, and pushed-back the invading Germans. They would fight in several key battles.  The fighting would finally end on 11 November 1911, with the agreed Armistice. The subsequent Treaty of Versailles, signed on 28 June 1919, would mark the end World War I.

 

                          

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WWI Helmet

Corporal Antonio Pedone, 28th Division, U.S. Army, AEF France

During World War I, Antonio Pedone was a machine gunner and motorcycle courier.  Antonio was promoted to Corporal. He fought hard with his 28th Division countrymen in the major AEF battles defending Paris and France and pushing back the Germans.  Was wounded twice and gassed, but survived to return home in America.   He was awarded several U.S. and French military service and honor medals and was eligible for the Purple Heart medal.   Upon arriving back in the U.S., he marched in the Philadelphia and New York City WWI Victory parade with General Pershing and the victorious American AEF troops returning from France.  Antonio Pedone was a proud “American Soldier” and soon would become a proud naturalized American citizen, beginning a new life in New York.

 

U.S. Enters World War I

Author’s Note:  The following paragraphs provided a brief perspective on U.S involvement in World War I and what Corporal Antonio Pedone experienced and accomplished.  This was a very important moment in our history, so it is addressed here in some detail.   Some of the assessments of the war are opinions of the author.   Additional details on U.S involvement in World War I are available in the “Reference Articles”, provided in his detailed biography.

 

When World War I began in Europe in 1914, many Americans wanted the United States to stay out of the conflict, supporting President Woodrow Wilson’s policy of strict and impartial neutrality.   Despite the U.S. position, many Americans personally sympathized with Britain, France, and their allies. American institutions lent large sums to the Allied governments, giving the U.S. a financial stake in the outcome of the war.   Nearly 10% of Americans identified as ethnic Germans, most of who hoped the United States would remain neutral in the war.

Public opinion began to shift away from neutrality following Germany’s sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 passengers, including 128 Americans. In the face of strong U.S. reactions, Germany temporarily backed off its submarine attacks on passenger and merchant marine ships in the Atlantic.   By 1915, especially in Eastern cities, a new Preparedness Movement proclaiming that the U.S. needed to immediately build up strong naval and land forces for defensive purposes. Interventionists, like former president Theodore Roosevelt, rallied to shape public opinion.   In November of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson won a close re-election under the slogan “He kept us out of the war.”   However, soon the war situation, U.S. public opinion, and President Wilson’s position would change dramatically.

In early 1917, when Russia’s internal political revolutions effectively took them out of the war against Germany, the prospects for the Allies darkened.   Already receiving massive shipments of supplies and a near limitless line of credit from the U.S., the Allies needed reinforcements. When easing Eastern military pressures made more forces available for their Western Front,

Germany sensed the tide was turning

To capitalize on the shift, German leaders agreed in January of 1917 to resume unrestricted submarine warfare to break the devastating army stalemate in Europe and the British navy’s successful blockade of critical German supply ports. This pushed American public opinion toward intervention.   Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare strategy sent more merchant and passenger ships to the ocean’s floor and the loss of American lives mounted.   The U.S. protested, and in February 1917 severed diplomatic relations with Germany, while Congress appropriated funds for increased military affairs.

About the same time, British cryptographers intercepted and began deciphering Germany’s “Zimmermann Telegram” offering U.S. territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause.   Though Mexico declaring war was not perceived as an imminent threat by the American public, sensational headlines trumpeted each new development as one of history’s most influential acts of codebreaking played out.   Across the nation, support grew for intervention.   On March 20, 1917, almost a month after the Zimmerman Telegram hit the American Press, President Wilson convened the Cabinet to discuss moving from a policy of armed neutrality to war.   It was unanimous: all members advised war.   With a proclamation already being drafted by President Wilson, the American steamship Aztec was torpedoed and sunk by Germany on April 1.

On April 2, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany specifically citing Germany’s renewed submarine policy as “a war against mankind.   It is a war against all nations.”   He also spoke about German spying inside the U.S. and the treachery of the Zimmermann Telegram.   Wilson urged that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”   For four days, Americans debated the momentous decision and most major newspapers published a sensationalized mix of war news and rumors that cast Germany as a ruthless enemy.   On April 4, the Senate voted to declare war against Germany by a vote of 82-6.   At 3:12 AM, April 6, 1917, the House of Representatives passed the resolution, in a 373 to 50 vote.    The United States went to war!

The State of the U.S. Army and U.S. Mobilization for War

With the Declaration of War, on 6 April 1917, the United States Army found itself almost totally unprepared!   The U.S. military had:

  • 133,000 men in the U.S. Army and most were not well trained or equipped for combat
  • Only 600 pieces of field artillery
  • Less than 500 machine guns
  • No tanks
  • No steel helmets
  • No gas protection equipment

The Army had few weapons beyond small arms that were similar to those combatants were using in Europe, and no personnel trained to use them.   For the United States to make a timely contribution to the Allies in land warfare, it would have to accept weapons and training from them, at least in the beginning.

With almost no heavy artillery pieces, a very small air service, and only a handful of camps that could be used for training, the country quickly mobilized for the war effort.   Congress appropriated money for military affairs and shouted down members who opposed the war. Newspapers were filled with stories of preparing for war, recruiting an army and converting industries to war production.   It was a race against time; as one headline reported, “Germany planned to ‘Whip Allies’ Before the U.S. is Ready.”

 

 

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Selling Bonds For The War ” Bonds Buy Bullets”

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Recruitment Poster ” Join The Army “

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Join The Air Service, Serve In France

Training was needed

The small size of America’s prewar Army and the desperate need of its European allies for fighting forces meant that large numbers of U.S. Army troops entered combat with minimal preparation for the task at hand.

After entering World War I, The U.S. had to build training camps for millions of new recruits. One soldier described Fort Sheridan, Ill., as “somewhat like a college campus on the eve of a big game.”   Training, however, was deadly serious.   Eight hundred British and French combat veterans came to the U.S. to prepare troops for the Western Front.

The new recruits struggled to keep their heads down while crawling under barbed wire.   They plunged bayonets into straw dummies with “Fritz” written on them.   They learned they had seven seconds to put on a gas mask.   The army also needed thousands of officers.   Regular Army and National Guard officers were quickly promoted.   The creation of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) converted college students with military aptitude into leaders.

 

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Shoulder Sleeve Patch

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Major General John J. Pershing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major General John J. Pershing

On May 26, 1917, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, issued General Order No. 1, appointing Major General John J. Pershing as commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF.).   The order gave Pershing command over “all the land forces of the United States operating in Continental Europe and in the United Kingdom, including any parts of the Marine Corps which may be detached for service there with the Army.”   The newly created AEF would “cooperate with the forces of the other countries,” the order stated, but as “a separate and distinct component of the combined forces, the identity of which must be preserved.”

Within a year of declaring war, the U.S. had assembled a military force of nearly 4 million men and women.   The American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) combined units from the regular Army, Marines, various state National Guards nationalized by the federal government, and the new National Army created from volunteers and draftees.   The regular Army units and Marines had existed before the war but were now expanded with the influx of volunteers.

Two million troops were eventually at the Western Front, serving in the Army and the Marines, and another 200,000 naval personnel were in European waters.

 

 

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Distinctive Insignia of The Armed Expansion Forces

Forty-three numbered divisions saw service with the AEF in Europe, with 1st-8th Divisions composed of Regular Army units, 26th-42nd composed of state National Guard units, and 76th and 93rd composed of National Army units.   General John J. Pershing, the Commander, arrived in France in mid-June 1917, with a few thousand soldiers.   By August 1918, the AEF comprised about 1 million U.S. troops in Europe.   By November 1918, there were about 2 million American soldiers in Europe.

     

 

 Dough Boys

In 1917, the French and British had been engaged in the war against the invading German “Huns” or “Boche”, as they were called, since 1914, and were locked in a deadly, stalemate trench warfare, inside French territory.   After America’s declaration of war against Germany on 6 April 1917, the first American troops landed in Europe in June 1917.   Their mission was to join the French and British allies in France, to stop the advance of the invading Germans,  to push them out of France and neighboring allied countries, and to end the war favorably for the allies.   This initial, relatively small force of American AEF soldiers, who were often called “Dough Boys”, needed additional equipment and training before they were prepared to join the fight.

In November 1917, the Allies formed the Supreme War Council to plan the defensive strategy until enough U.S. troops could reach Western Front.    The Allies wanted Americans to serve as replacements, to fill in where the Allies were weak.  The French specifically wanted integration under French command.

Pershing’s Plan

Pershing’s plan was to keep the AEF an independent fighting force under his command, and he envisioned a different role for his force than that of the Allies.  He believed his troops would be weakened if they were dispersed among the European forces.   He felt it imperative that the Americans have their own sector where the entire AEF would be employed as an integral military force, rather than be amalgamated with the British and French forces.

Pershing did not want his forces to be bogged down in the deadly stalemate trench warfare, and instead, reestablish maneuver on the battlefield.  This meant that the AEF would have to avoid embracing the trench warfare mentality of the Allies and train and fight using what he termed “open warfare.”   American military strategy was bolder, like the old west, “hit them hard and fast, on the go, where they are vulnerable and least expected”.   This was effectively an early version of today’s “Shock & Awe”!   This strategy sounds like George Patton’s strategy!   Patton was recently with Pershing’s Punitive Expedition forces in Mexico, and he commanded the first use of tank and armored motorized vehicles in combat.  He would command of the AEF tank units in France, prepared to push through the German defenses & control the battle. Pershing also wanted the AEF to be an independent fighting unit, self-contained, properly equipped and trained, and ready for combat before they were sent to France.  However, an American force “build-up” of such magnitude would take some time to achieve, and time may be running out for the Allies.

The very successful German spring offensive in March 1918, had made Pershing realize that he needed to change his course of action.   In June it was agreed with the Allies that American troops would be sent to France from America quickly, without space-occupying equipment, which could be provided by the French and British once the Americans were in France.  However, the iron-willed American commander prevailed over all of the arguments and threats from the military and civilian leadership of the Allies.   He would employ the AEF in a sector of its own, using tactics that emphasized the spirit of the offensive and individual marksmanship.   Pershing generally held firm, though at times he sent troops to France and the United Kingdom.

The 28th Infantry Division & Corporal Anthony Pedone

Upon the entry of America into the First World War, the old Pennsylvania National Guard 7th Division, including Private Antonio Pedone, was again drafted into federal service on 5 August 1917, only months after returning from the Punitive Expedition in Mexico.   The Pennsylvania 7th Division travel by train to Camp Handcock, Georgia, near Augusta.  The Division was reorganized as the 28th Infantry Division, and conducted systematic training at Camp Hancock, Georgia, from 19 August 1917 to 20 April 1918.    Pennsylvania National Guardsman, Antonio Pedone, became an original member of one of the base regiments of the 28th Division, designated as the 110th Infantry Regiment, Machine Gun Company.

He is name and military information are listed in the 1918 “History of the 110th Infantry Regiment”, page 259.   His name and photo are also included in the 1818 “Regimental Roster” of the 110th Infantry Regiment, on page 25.

 

 

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History of the 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division AEF 1917-1919

 

Note:  See “Reference Articles” for the History of the 110th Infantry Regiment.   Men whose serial number is included from 1239185 to 1239337 are members of the original 110th Infantry Regiment – Machine Gun Company.   Men’s records with two numbers in brackets, i.e., (25-27). indicates that this man’s picture appears on page 25, picture number 27, in the “110th Infantry Regimental Roster” made in April 1918, at Camp Hancock, GA, before going overseas.

 

1918 

“Regimental Roster”

110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division, AEF, WWI France

 

 

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28th Division Training Encampment at Camp Hancock, Augusta, Georgia, 1917

 

 

The 28th Division, Commanded by Major General Charles Muir, comprised of 28,000 men

was organized into three Brigades

Each with multiple Regiments or Battalions, as follows:

 

             28th Division, American Expeditionary Force, WWI, France

 

     55th Infantry Brigade                         56th Infantry Brigade                 53rd Field Artillery Brigade

  • 109th Infantry Regiment                        • 111th Infantry Regiment                  • 107th Field Artillery Reg.
  • 110th Infantry Regiment                • 112th Infantry Regiment                  • 108th  Field Artillery Reg.
  • 110th Machine Gun Battalion      • 109th Machine Gun Batt.                • 103rd Trench Mortar Battery

(Antonio Pedone’s unit is highlighted Bold)

 

The situation for the division at Camp Hancock was dismal.   The men arrived there in summer uniforms, which were not replaced by winter ones until the winter was well along.   Adequate blankets were not available until January.   Training equipment was woeful. There was but one bayonet for every three men; machine guns made of wood, and there was but one 37-mm gun for the whole division.

The experienced Private Antonio Pedone, fresh from the Punitive Expedition, continued his training as a member of a heavy machine gun crew.  He also prepared to serve again as a motorcycle courier.

 

 

28th Division Soldiers Boarding Ship Bound for France

In late April 1918, the 28th Division traveled by train to New York City, and on 2 May, embarked in multiple ships for the 14 days sailing to England & then on to France.    They would soon be “in harm’s way”, on the battlefields of France, facing deadly combat against the Germans.

Since the transport ships needed to bring American troops to Europe were scarce at the beginning, the army pressed into service passenger liners, seized German ships, and borrowed Allied ships to transport American soldiers from New York, New Jersey, and Newport News, Virginia. The mobilization effort taxed the American military to the limit and required new organizational strategies and command structures to transport great numbers of troops and supplies quickly and efficiently.

AEF Preparations in France

By 18 May 1918, the 28th Division had arrived in Europe and began training with the British. America had been the provider of many war parts for the French and British armies while it was neutral.   Ironically, now in the war, both the British and French armies provided the first arriving American troops with equipment and uniforms.   The AEF units and soldiers were deliberately shipped to France with minimal equipment and training, to get them in France quickly, so as to bolster Ally moral and our commitment to the war, and to intimidate German confidence of any victory in the war.   It was planned that the French and British would supply the needed equipment and additional combat training in France.

The French provided the AEF Artillery units with French artillery guns (75 and 155mm) and gave the U.S. tank corps French Renault FT light tanks.    The British provided mortars, machine guns, steel helmets, some uniforms and cold weather gear, and other essential equipment for the field.   American aviation units received the SPAD XIII and Nieuport 28 Fighter.

 

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Renault FT-17 light tank WWI

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The British Hotchkiss Machine Gun used by Corporal Antonio Pedone in France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spad XIII WWI

 

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Nieuport 28 Fighter

 

The AEF

The AEF absolutely needed the French and British equipment to become an effective fighting force against the Germans.   Pershing established facilities in France to train new arrivals with their new weapons.   French and British Army instructors helped to train the AEF soldiers.

The American AEF forces brought their own Indian & Harley Davidson motorcycles to France.   Antonio Pedone would ride both, as front-line Motorcycle Courier.

 

 

 

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Indian Motorcycle WWI

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Harley-Davidson Motorcycle WWI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Motorcycles of the U.S. Army AEF, in France, 1917-19

 

The French harbors of Bordeaux, La Pallice, Saint Nazaire and Brest became the entry points into the French railway system which brought the US forces and their supplies to the front. American engineers in France built 82 new ship berths, nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of additional standard-gauge tracks & 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of telephone & telegraph lines.

28th Division AEF Joins the Fight

After arriving in France, receiving needed equipment from the French and British, and conducted additional training, the 28th Division moved to the front line on 30 June 1918.

Antonio Pedone’s was assigned to the Machine Gun Company, 110th Infantry Regiment, of the 55th Brigade, 28th Division, Second Corps, First Army, U.S. Army American Expeditionary Force.    He served at the front lines as a Machine Gunner with a heavy machine gun crew, and would also serve as a Motorcycle Courier, bringing messages to and from the 28th Division Headquarters and the front line deployed Brigades and Regiments.   He would be gassed and wounded twice, as the fighting raged on.   He would be promoted to Corporal.

Perspective on WWI in 1918

Despite the 1917 revolution in Russia, fortune seemed to favor the Allies with the arrival of the Americans to France. However, these troops needed time to train before they could be combat effective. Recognizing the window of opportunity, Ludendorff consolidated the manpower freed up from the Eastern Front to conduct Operation Michael in order to split the Allies’ lines. The successes of the German Stormtroopers infiltration tactics earned Germany 40 miles of territory.   But the offensive lost momentum when it surpassed its supply lines. Up to this point, American General Pershing refused to hand over American divisions to either the British or French armies, insisting on keeping them together as one army. But in the face of the German onslaught, Pershing would relent and send a portion of his army to assist the French in blocking the German advance.

In 1918, an increasingly exhausted Germany played its last card with General Ludendorff’s initially successful offensive against the British in March and April.   Looking to defeat the British occupied in Flanders, Ludendorff sought to divert the Allies’ French reserves away from the region. In his Operation Blucher, Ludendorff aimed some of his forces at the Chemin des Dames and took the French Sixth Army by surprise. Driving on, the Germans broke through, eventually penetrating as far as Chateau-Thierry on the Marne River, situated under 50 miles from Paris. With Marshal Ferdinand Foch unable to acquire British assistance, General Pershing’s chief of operation, Colonel Fox Conner, recognized the gravity of the situation and ordered the AEF units to block them.

 

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The “Beginning of the End”, as American AEF Soldiers Engage the Germans in 1918

 

The Battle of Chateau Thierry

The Battle of Château-Thierry was fought on July 15, 1918, and was one of the first actions of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) under General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.   It was a part of the Second Battle of the Marne.  On 14 July 1918, ahead of an expected German offensive, the 28th Division took up defensive positions along the Marne River east of Chateau-Thierry, and less than 50 miles northeast of Paris.

The Germans commenced their attack, on 15 July, with an artillery barrage.  When the German assault collided with the main force of the 28th, the fighting became bitter hand-to-hand combat.   Individual American units exercised initiative and continued fighting despite being nominally behind enemy lines.  The 28th repelled the German forces and decisively defeated their enemy.  However, four isolated companies of the 109th & 110th Infantry stationed on the first defensive line suffered heavy losses.

These brave American soldiers stopped the German advance at Chateau-Thierry, thus defending Paris from likely German capture.    The Germans had great confidence in their planned advance, but later revealed that the American soldiers stood like their own “Rocky Mountains”, completely destroying their plans to capture Paris!   Most importantly, the AEF troops demonstrated to the French that the famous Prussian Guard could be defeated by the American Infantry.   The Germans would not advance further into France, and a steady German retreat would follow.     

 

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Chateau-Thierry – A “Turning Point” of World War I – 1918

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28th Infantry Division Battle of Belleau Woods WWI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antonio Pedone was wounded during the battle at Chateau-Thierry.   A bullet passed through the side of his mouth, knocking out two teeth, but he stayed in combat with his crew.  He was promoted to Corporal and would remain a combat soldier with the Machine Gun Company, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28 the Division, and motorcycle courier, to war’s end.

The 28th Division gained considerable fame as a result of its gallant stand.   After the battle, General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, visited the battlefield and declared that the 28th soldiers were “Men of Iron” and named the 28th Division as his “Iron Division.”

The 28th Division helped stop Germany’s last desperate grasp for victory at the Marne River and was a spearhead in the Franco-American advance from the Marne to the Vesle River.   During August 1918, the division held the deadly Fismes sector, and in late September and early October 1918, the 28th helped smash the Hindenburg Line during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.   A steady German retreat followed, as the AEF and allied forces advanced.

Corporal Antonio Pedone would continue to fight in all the subsequent 28th Division battles.   He would encounter German mustard gas attacks but was protected by a mask.   He was wounded a second time, but recovered quickly and stayed in the battle all the way to the end of the war.

Armistice

The Allies won victories on all fronts in the fall of 1918.    The American Expeditionary Forces had evolved into a modern, combat-tested army.   The ferocity and effectiveness of the AEF American fighting soldiers and their huge build-up of additional AEF forces in France prepared to join the fight, convinced the Germans that further fighting was futile.  In the early morning, on Nov. 11, 1918, the Germans accepted an Armistice agreement or truce of the warring parties to suspended hostilities.

The following terms of the were demanded of the Germans, by the Allies:

  • Evacuate the territories it had taken during the war
  • Surrender large numbers of arms, ships, and other war materials
  • Allow the Allied powers to occupy German territory along the Rhine River.

 

French Field Marshall Foch ordered the fighting to stop on the Western Front at 11 a.m., the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918.     World War I was over!

 

 

 

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Victorious AEF Fighting Soldiers in France – 1918

The AEF sustained about 320,000 casualties: 53,402 battle deaths, 63,114 non-combat deaths and 204,000 wounded.   The influenza pandemic during the fall of 1918 took the lives of more than 25,000 men from the AEF while another 360,000 became gravely ill.  Other diseases were relatively well controlled through compulsory vaccination.   Typhoid fever was also practically eliminated.  Relatively few men suffered actual injury from poison gas, although much larger numbers mistakenly thought that they had been exposed.

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AEF Soldiers Wearing Gas Masks

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General Pershing Awarding Medals for Bravery The 28th Division’s Service

                                                    

During World War I, the 28th Division participated in the following campaigns & battles:

  •  Chateau-Thierry 
  •  Meuse-Argonne 
  •  Champagne-Marne 
  •  Champaign
  •  Aisne-Marne 
  •  Oise-Aisne 
  • Ypres-Lys operations and Lorraine 

The Division suffered a total of 14,139 casualties (2,165 killed & 11,974 wounded), 50% of the 28,000 man division.

Two individuals received the Medal of Honor: Sergeant James I. Mestrovitch, Company C, 111th Infantry; and Major Joseph H. Thompson, Headquarters, 110th Infantry.

 

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WWI Victory Medal

Soldiers of the 28th Division were each awarded the U.S. World War One Victory Medal and received a medal Battle Clasp attached to the ribbon identifying each of the major battles they personally fought.   Corporal Antonio Pedone’s WWI Victory Medal had all of the 28th Division earned Campaign Battle Clasps:

  •  Chateau-Thierry 
  •  Oise-Aisne         
  •  Champagne-Marne        
  •  Meuse-Argonne                                                              
  •  Aisne-Marne                      
  •  Defensive Sector Ypres-Lys (FA) Operations 

(Note:  See “Reference Articles”, History of the 110th Regiment, for more information)

The Occupation

In accordance with the terms of the 11 November 1918 Armistice agreement, German forces began retreating from their front lines in France to return to Germany.   As the Germans moved east, allied forces moved-in behind them to re-occupy French territory and to occupy the German Rhineland area west of the Rhine River. Portions of the 28th Division, including Corporal Antonio Pedone, remained in occupation German territory for five months after the Armistice was signed, into early May 1919.   He served as a motorcycle courier and was awarded the WWI Occupation Medal.

 

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Soldiers of the 28th Division crossing into Germany to occupy territory defined by the Armistice

 

 

 

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AEF WWI Occupation Medal

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28th Division Occupation of German Territory

 

The Return Home

 The 28th Division units began returning by ship to the U.S. early May 1919.   They embarked at various French ports and sailed for New York or Philadelphia.   The ships were very crowded with jubilant soldiers, happy to be going home after confronting so much danger and personal sacrifice.    The site of the Statute of Liberty and the New York City skyline must have been a glorious sight to the AEF soldiers and would be just the beginning of the cities “warm welcome home” to our returning American heroes.

Corporal Antonio Pedone sailed for Philadelphia, arriving on 11 May 1919.    The ships were met by tugs carrying the friends of the Regiment.  All along the Delaware River, factory whistles shrilled a welcome to the returning Keystone soldiers.   The soldiers immediately traveled by train to Camp Dix, New Jersey.

 

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Returning Victorious 28th Division Troops to Philadelphia

 

Victory Parades and Demobilization

The Regiment left Camp Dix May 14th to take part in the great Welcome Home Parade in Philadelphia.  The parade, which was the last appearance of the 28th Division, took place in the city of Brotherly Love, on May 15, 1919.  It was the most pretentious Home Coming Celebration ever accorded to Pennsylvania soldiers.  It was estimated that two million people viewed the parade as it passed over the streets of Philadelphia.  In the afternoon the 110th returned to Camp Dix, where it was met with an order detaching it from the 28th Division and the process of mustering out was started.    The 28th Division was demobilized on 17 May 1919, at Camp Dix, New Jersey.

 

Corporal Antonio Pedone became a civilian again, but he was not just any ordinary civilian.     He was a decorated, combat veteran, an American soldier of the “War to End all Wars”, as World War I was known.

 

 

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US Army WWI Honorable Discharge Chevron

 

Corporal Antonio Pedone was issued a US Army Honorable Discharge Chevron, to be worn on left uniform jacket sleeve to indicate honorable service during the Great War and subsequent honorable discharge, allowing a serviceman to wear his uniform after the fact.   Soldiers having the red chevron their sleeve was also allowed to ride the trains anywhere in the country, to return home for free.  Similar WWI Victory parades were held in Washington DC, New York, and many other American cities, and around the world.

 

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New York City WWI Victory Parade

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Corporal Antonio Pedone and fellow soldiers of the 28th Division, led by General Pershing, marched in the grand World War I Victory Parade in central New York City, on 10 September 1919.    The New Yorkers and other Americans from around the country attending the parade gave our soldiers a very warm “welcome home” and showed great respect and pride for their service and accomplishments.   This was an exceptional patriotic moment in our nation’s history

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  The Treaty of Versailles

 Although the Armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference, made up more than twenty nations, to conclude the peace treaty.   The four top leaders of the Allied powers were known as the “Big Four”, or the “Council of Four”, and was composed of Woodrow Wilson of the United States, David Lloyd George of Britain, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, and Georges Clemenceau of France.   The Treaty, signed on 28 June 1919, ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers.   President Wilson’s had proposed his “14 Points” to end the war in a firm, yet fair, manner.   However Wilson’s “14 Points” were not adopted by the French and British allies, who wanted to “severely punish Germany”.  The 1919 Versailles Treaty formally ended World War I but imposed such severe penalties and restrictions on Germany, which would ultimately contribute to rise and acceptance of Adolf Hitter’s Nazi Party and lead to German prosecution of a second world war.   The newly created “League of Nations” to resolve world issues and conflicts would also fail miserably.

 

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The “Big Four” Leaders Including President Wilson (right) at Versailles Treaty Signing

 

As a result, the “War to End all Wars”, the 1919 Versailles Treaty, and the League of Nations would fail to keep the peace.    The stage was set for another great world conflict, which could devastate Europe and take millions of lives, including many young Americans.   World War II would start 20 years later, in 1939.

 

(Authors Comments:  This Versailles Treaty “matters” because Antonio Pedone would soon start a family.   In a little over twenty years, his two sons and daughter would all have to join the U.S. Army to defend America and rescue France again from the subsequent German aggression in World War II.   His oldest son, Vito Pedone, would again be fighting the Germans over France, as an A-20 combat pilot with the U.S. Army 9th Air Force, and as the co-pilot of the lead Pathfinder C-47 dropping the first Pathfinder paratroopers into Normandy on D-Day, to again push the Germans out of France and defeat them.   His middle son, Stephen Pedone, also an Army Air Force pilot, would pay the ultimate price for his service, and was killed in a B-24, in 1944   An“effective peace” is just important as “winning the war”! )

Memorials to the WWI AEF and 28th Division

Numerous memorial statues and similar monuments were erected in many American cities and towns after the war to honor the service of the American AEF soldiers and the American victory.   Several memorials honored the 28th Division specifically.  The French were especially grateful for the American AEF forces that fought bravely to defend the French people and their lands, help defeat the invading Germans, and to secure freedom for all.   Many French cities and villages have their own special memorials to honor the WWI American AEF forces, especially those who gave their lives, including the “Iron Men” of the 28th Division.  Tony visited these WWI Memorials and his French battlefields in 1952, with his son Vito and grandson – me.

 

Military Awards – World War I

Corporal Antonio Pedone was awarded the following U.S. and French medals for his service, bravery, and combat wounds during World War I, in France, 1918-19.

US Military Awards

 

   

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The Purple Heart awarded to soldiers wounded in battle

 

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WWI Victory Medal

 

 

 

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AEF WWI Occupation Medal

                                                

 

French Military Awards

 

                        

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French Legion of Honor

 

 

                     

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French Campaign
WWI Medal

 

 

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French War Cross WW I Medal

 

Uniform Ribbon Set

 The Ribbon Set is worn on the uniform coat, above the left breast pocket.   The individual ribbons identify the official U.S. and French military medals and service awards presented to Corporal Antonio Pedone.

 

      

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                                                                   Purple Heart                    W W I Victory

                                            WWI Occupation               Mexico Service                  Mexico Border

                                       French Legion Of Honor       French War Cross         French Campaign                                                           

State WWI Federal Service Medals

 The following World War I Federal Service Medals were awarded by the State of Pennsylvania and the State of New York to Corporal Antonio Pedone, for his service in the American  Expeditionary Force, in France, during World War I.   They are unofficial awards for display only and are not worn on the uniform.

 

Pennsylvania

The State of Pennsylvania awarded the following WWI Federal Service Medals to Corporal Antonio Pedone, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division, AEF France:

 

               

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State of Pennsylvania WWI Federal Service Medal

                                         Awarded to Pennsylvania National Guard Veterans of the 28th Division, AEF, 1917-19

New York

    

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State of New York WW I Federal Service Medal
Awarded to New York State WWI AEF Veterans

                                       

French WWI Campaign Commemorative Medals

The following French WWI Campaign Commemorative Medals were awarded by the French to Corporal Antonio Pedone, for his service in specified WW I Campaigns and Battles in France.   These medals were not official and often awarded by the town’s themselves, in appreciation of the soldiers’ participation.  They were not to be worn on dress uniforms, and are for display.  There are several variations of some medals.

 

                            

          

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WWI 1918 Somme Campaign Medal

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WW1 1918 Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal

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WW1 1918 Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal

 

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WWI 1918 Verdun Medal Campaign Medal

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WWI 1918 St. Michael Campaign Medal

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WWI 1918 Meuse Argonne Campaign Medal

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WWI 1918 La Marne Campaign Medal

  

             

A Perspective on Corporal Antonio Pedone’s Military Service

Corporal Antonio Pedone, now 22 years old at the end of WWI in 1918, saw and experienced the great awakening and dramatic transition of the US Army and the US Political position in the world affairs during the short 5 years between 1916 and 1919.       Antonio was there at the start of this awakening, the Punitive Expedition, in Mexico, and he was there at the start of the historic AEF mobilization, the major AEF WWI battles in France, the Armistice, the Occupation, and the Victory parades in Philadelphia and New York City.   He personally contributed to the success of the AEF and the allied victory over German aggression in WWI, and the subsequent American military strength and political prominence in world events.   He helped restore peace, freedom, and security to America and our European Allies.

Antonio Pedone served his new country proudly, with courage & honor in time of war. He came home wounded but safe, to begin a new life & raise a family of first-generation Americans.   He was a proud American Soldier, a Combat Veteran, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and he would soon become a proud naturalized citizen of the United States of America.

 

 

Naples Museum Of Military History

                                         

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