20th CENTURY WARS
In 1916, Pancho Villa, a Mexican bandit, made a raid into New Mexico. General John J. Pershing, of the United States Army, led a force to capture him. Troops from the U.S. tried to find him but failed.
Company B, 3rd Infantry of the National Guard from Cooper County went to help in the capture of Villa. This included 67 men under the leadership of Capt. R A. Johnston. They were called to Federal service June 18, 1916. Because of the outbreak of World War I, they had to return. Pancho Villa was never captured.
WORLD WAR I
Arch Duke Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, of Austria, were assassinated. This led to a series of events that triggered World War I. The war began in 1914 and ended in 1918.
(1917) The single act of shooting Ferdinand and his wife marked the beginning of the war. But there were several basic causes of World War I. These causes were: the growth of nationalism, the system of military alliances that made a balance of power, the competition for colonies and other territories, and the use of secret diplomacy.
The United States tried to remain neutral. German submarines sank unarmed passenger ships, and stories of German attacks against civilians convinced Americans to join the Allies. The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
New weapons and new methods of warfare were developed during World War I. The machine gun appeared in the war. The British army first used a tank during the war. The submarine came into use for the first time on a large scale. Air warfare also developed in World War I. The Germans used dirigible balloons, called Zeppelins. In 1915, Germany first used poison gas.
Much of the war took place in trenches and involved hand to hand combat. The western battlefront stretched about 600 miles from the English Channel to the border of Switzerland. The eastern front extended more than 1,100 miles from the Baltic Sea to the shores of the Black Sea. The southern front ran from Switzerland to Trieste for about 320 miles.
Agreements made after the war changed the map of the world. New governments appeared in many of the countries that had been involved in the war. World War I did not settle the world’s problems. It just sowed seeds that caused the world to engage in another war less than 20 years later.
Five hundred ninety-three men from Cooper County served in the war. Of those, 49 were wounded, six killed and one taken as a Prisoner of War. Ten others died from disease and two were reported missing in action.
Company B of the 3rd Regiment Infantry National Guard from Boonville, with 92 men, served in the war under the command of Capt. Carl F. Scheidner. They were called to Federal Service on March 25, 1917.
WORLD WAR I WEBPAGES
WORLD WAR II
(1939) Hard times worldwide caused the rise of dictators. Adolph Hitler, dictator in Germany, was a threat to Europeans. Benito Mussolini was a threat in Italy. Europeans felt they had to fight for their freedom.
World War II began on September 1, 1939, when German aircraft, tanks, and motorized troops attacked Poland. By early 1942 all major countries of the world were involved in the war.
The war opened the Atomic Age, and brought changes in warfare. Trucks would speed the infantry men to the battle front after aerial bombing. Bombers and guided missiles were used. Airplanes, warships, and ground forces worked together with split second timing during attacks. Paratroops dropped from airplanes or landed in gliders.
The war was fought in almost every part of the world. The chief battle grounds were in Asia, Europe, North Africa, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy surrendered on September 3, 1943, Germany on May 7, 1945, and Japan on September 2, 1945. General Douglas MacArthur accepted the unconditional surrender on the deck of the battleship U.S.S. Missouri, and took over in Tokyo. A somewhat uneasy peace returned to a war-weary world.
The United States was trying to stay out of the conflict, but there were three problems that affected the United States: the Germans were torpedoing Allied shipping, Germany had promised Mexico some American territory, and the U.S. had loaned Britain and France a lot of money. The United States did not enter the war until December 1941, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. At Wake Island the Japanese took many prisoners, including a Boonville man, Charles Huber, who was with a construction force. He remained a prisoner until the war ended. The U.S. wanted to stop German and Japanese aggression against other countries.
2,012 men from Cooper County served in World War II. All those serving from Cooper County are listed on a memorial plaque at the Cooper County courthouse. The 54 men killed in action during this war have a star by their names.
Thomas Hart Benton Peril of War series painting Embarkation
State Historical Society of Missouri Art Collection
(1941) The United Stated Entered World War II after the Japanese bombing of the American fleet in Pearl Harbor. (Courtesy of Missouri Bicentennial Timeline)
“Missourians fought on nearly every front of the war with around 450,000 Missouri residents serving in the military. Soldiers from Missouri were stationed in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor came under attack. Missouri soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Each campaign of the war involved Missourians overseas and those who served at home. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Thomas Hart Benton worked on The Year of Peril, a series of powerful war paintings financed by medical supplier Abbott Laboratories for the war department. Among the series, Benton honored the soldiers of WWII with this image of a Black soldier who trained in Kansas City. The image foreshadows the desegregation of the armed forces instituted by President Harry Truman after WWII.”
(1945) The formal end of WWII took place onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. (Courtesy of Missouri Bicentennial Timeline)
“WWII raged on from 1939-1945, causing massive devastation in its wake. It would be the deadliest war taking the lives of 60-80 million people, including the 6 million European Jews who were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. The end of the car came when the U.S. Army Air Force detonated two nuclear bombs over Japan. The dropping of the atomic bombs, along with a Soviet invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria in northeastern China put an end to the war. The first unofficial news of surrender came from local radio stations on August 14. Missourians honked car horns, shouted from windows and filled the streets to celebrate the end of the war. In St. Louis, office workers threw paperwork into the air like confetti, while others banged washboards and danced in the streets. The official word came later that day when President Truman confirmed the news. Japanese officers offered unconditional surrender to General Douglas MacArthur and other U.S. and Allied officers on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.”
Official surrender of Japan is signed on the deck of the
USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945, (P0409)
State Historical Society of Missouri.
WORLD WAR II WEBPAGES
(1950) The Korean War was the first war in history when troops of a world organization, the United Nations, acted as “police” to fight a nation who was attacking another nation. The war began on June 25, 1950, when troops of Communist-ruled North Korea attacked South Korea in an attempt to unify the country by force. The United Nation Charter had outlawed all aggression so the United Nations asked member countries to aid South Korea. Sixteen countries, who were members of the U.N., sent troops and aid to South Korea.
Russia aided the North Koreans by supplying guns, ammunition, planes, and equipment. Communist Chinese forces also entered the war on the side of North Korea.
The war ended on July 27, 1953, when both sides agreed to settle the problems of Korea at an international conference.
Several Cooper County men served in the Korean War.
KOREAN WAR WEBPAGES
North Vietnam wanted to conquer South Vietnam. Again, Cooper County men served their country.
Iraq took over Kuwait. Kuwait was a major oil supplier to the United States. The war was mainly fought to protect the Persian oil fields. Troops from Cooper County served in the Gulf.
The Central Missouri Honor Flight is a non-profit 501c (3) organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. The group transports our heroes from throughout Central Missouri to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at their memorials at no cost to them. Since their inception in 2009, they have transported thousands of veterans to Washington on 61 flights. Top priority is given to senior veterans – WWII survivors, along with other veterans of Korea and Vietnam who may be terminally ill. They are a totally volunteer organization and are funded by donations from individuals, organizations and businesses who wish to see our aging veterans honored before it is too late.
Of all the wars in recent memory, it was WWII that truly threatened our very existence as a nation and free society. Now, with more than 640 WWII veterans dying each day, time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.
The picture is of Kathy Wilkerson, a registered nurse from Pilot Grove, who has volunteered for 19 Honor Flights. She is serving here as a Guardian for Kathy Griggs who served as a Marine in the Viet Nam War.
The last Honor Flight out of Columbia was in November of 2019. They did no Honor Flights in 2020 due to COVID, and flights are currently suspended for 2021.
WOMEN IN THE MILITARY
Over the years, women have served their country in various ways in the military. Many were nurses, some were doctors, and some were spies, but until the beginning of the Second World War women were rarely active in the military and were not considered to be enlisted, so they were not eligible for any military benefits. But, during the early days of World War II, with many men being called into the Armed Services, women who had never worked before went to work taking men’s places in factories and business, and some into the actual armed services in minor roles.
Wikipedia has excellent information on how each military branch accepted women and the various jobs that they did. Especially interesting is information on women pilots who flew the new planes to the airports where they would be then flown into battle by Navy and Airforce pilots. The women had excellent safety records. Unfortunately, women pilots and other women in the Armed Services did not receive the same benefits of the enlisted men, but this has now been changed.
8 female soldiers who changed the course of US ... - Army Times
Partial timeline from Wikipedia
1938: The (U.S.) Naval Reserve Act permitted the enlistment of qualified women as nurses.
1942: YN3 Dorothy Tuttle became the first SPAR enlistee when she enlisted in the Coast Guard Women's Reserve on the 7th of December, 1942.
1942: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Public Law 689 creating the Navy’s women reserve program on 30 July 1942.
1943: The U.S. Women's Army Corps recruited a unit of Chinese-American women to serve with the Army Air Forces as "Air WACs."
Information for each Branch of the Military that women have been and are now members of.
SPARS - United States Coast Guard (USCG) Women's Reserve
If you have an ancestor who was in a military unit, there are over 250 military museums in the US that you can access online, or in person, to learn more about the unit and possibly even your ancestor(s). There are probably more military museums in the US than you can visit in a lifetime. Just google the branch of service and the state, and you will find tons of information. Below are the military museums in Missouri. Also check all of the military resources under the genealogy section at the beginning of the research section on this website.
MISSOURI MILITARY MUSEUMS
Jefferson Barracks – 345 North Road, St. Louis, MO 63125. Phone: 314-615-8800
Soldiers Memorial Museum – 5700 Lindell Blvd., St Louis, MO 63112 Phone: 314-746-4599
Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum -1315 Chestnut St., Saint Louis, MO Phone: 314-818-6780
Museum of Missouri Military History - 2405 Logistics Road, Jefferson City, MO, 6510. Phone: 573-638-9603
John Mahaffey Museum Complex - Fort Leonard Wood, 495 S. Dakota Ave., Fort Leonard Wood, MO 65473. Phone: 573-596-6780
Fort Leonard Wood Driving Tour - Fort Leonard Wood 495 S. Dakota Ave., Fort Leonard Wood, MO 65473. Phone: 573-336-6355
Branson Veterans Memorial Museum - 1250 W Hwy 76 Country Blvd., Branson, MO 65616 Phone: 417-336-2300. veteransmemorialbranson.com
2305 E. Kearney St., Springfield, MO: Phone (417) 864-7997
Battleship Missouri: The USS Missouri Memorial Association is dedicated to preserving the Battleship Missouri and sharing her story and place in history The Battleship Missouri Memorial is an American icon that stands in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Battleship welcomes visitors from around the world and is conveniently located less than three miles from the Honolulu International Airport and just eleven miles from Waikiki.