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November 11, 2014 / Gregory Williams

Veterans Day: Carl Billings

Last year I retold the already retold story of Henry Lincoln Johnson. This year, I wish to tell a much more mundane and probably a far more common sort of story of an American Carl Billings WWIwar veteran, that of my great-grandfather. Actually it won’t even be me telling the story. He left it for us, as part of an old resume of his that my brothers and I found on trip to the Decatur County Historical Society in Greensburg, IN.

I post this in honor of my family’s veterans. Thanks boys.

What follows is a transposed excerpt from Carl Billings’ undated resume, c1940.

Page 2 War Experience

August, 1917 – Enlisted in U. S. Navy at Chayenne, Wyo. Required to wait until group of 50 could be gathered together. In December started teaching at Chugwater, Wyo.

Jan. 2, 1918 – Called to Chayenne. Passed physical examination and kept there at Normandy Hotel for three weeks, then sent to Denver with group of 50 Navy enlistees.

Jan. 25, 1918 – Rejected by U. S. Navy because of “green color blindness”. Returned to teaching at Chugwater.

June 25, 1918 – Inducted into U. S. Army at Chayenne.

June 28, 1918 – Mustered in at Camp Lewis, Wash.

July 11, 1918 – Transferred to Camp Kearney (now Camp Pendleton) Calif., near Mexican border. With Co. A, 160th Inf., 40th (Sunset) Div. Carl Billings Resume p2

July 28, 1918 – Arrived at Camp Mills, N. Y.  after several days’ ride through U. S. and Canada.

Aug. 7, 1918 – Left U. S. on British cattle ship Mentor.

Aug. 20, 1918 – Landed at Liverpool, England. Moved through Stratford-on-Avon & Birmingham to Southampton.

Aug. 28, 1918 – Across English Channel to Le Harve, France.

Sept. 4, 1918 – Arrived at front near Verdun. With Co. I, 112th Inf. , 28th (Keystone) Div.

Sept. 26-Oct. 8 – Battle of Argonne Forest. Relieved by 82nd (Tennessee) Div. Sgt. Alvin C. York in battalion that relieved us. Sgt. York performed his famous exploit on following day.

Oct. 9-Oct. 16 – Back for rest at Vignot, France.

Oct. 16 – Moved up to Thiscount Sector

Oct. 18 – Tagged for hospital. Dysentery

Oct. 18-Nov. 16 – Base Hospital at Toul, France.

Nov. 16-Dec. 11 – Casual camp at Nevers, France.

Dec. 15 – Back with Co. I, 112th., at Buxieres

Jan. 5, 1919 Marched back to Souvigny on Meuse River.

Carl Billings’ resume continues onto a third page and outlines his movements and activities throughout France where he taught at a “Battalion school for illiterates” and took up studies in Educational History, Administration, and Psychology at a university in Beaune, France before his discharge from the Army in the summer of 1919.

What is poignant to me from this record of his experience is the boring detail he includes. Surely employers would not have been compelled one way or the other about his dysentery. If I could meet the man today I might ask, hoping that he witnessed nothing on the front worthy of mention, over experiences more worthy of deliberate omission.

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