The Nancy Ward Chapter TNDAR (Tennessee Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution) met at Mountain City Club, hosting Louis Varnell, dressed in WWI uniform. He exhibited a WWI photo of his great-grandfather and presented a history of his participation in the first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in World War I (U.S. officially entered the conflict on April 6, 1917) in the battle of Belleau Wood, northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road.
In late May 1918, the third German offensive of the year penetrated the Western Front to within 45 miles of Paris. U.S. forces under General John J. Pershing helped halt the German advance. On June 6, General Pershing ordered a counteroffensive to drive the Germans out of Belleau Wood. U.S. Marines under General James Harbord led the attack against the four German divisions positioned in the woods; and by the end of the first day suffered more than 1,000 casualties.
For the next three weeks, the Marines, backed by U.S. Army artillery, launched many attacks into the forested area, but German General Erich Ludendorff was determined to deny the Americans a victory. General Ludendorff continually brought up reinforcements from the rear, and the Germans attacked the U.S. forces with machine guns, artillery, and mustard gas.
Finally, on June 26, the Americans prevailed but at the cost of nearly 10,000 dead, wounded, or missing in action.
The Medal of Honor was awarded to 121 men for their actions in World War I (34 of them posthumously): 92 from the Army, to include four from the Air Service, 21 from the Navy, and eight from the Marine Corps.
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