The U. S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. My grandfather, Herley Wilson, enlisted in the National Guard two weeks later in Boise, Idaho on April 21. He'd been eighteen for a little over two months. It must have been a struggle to see him go. The crops were coming on, but there was a war.
It was about 42 years later that he said to me, "Let's go to town for a hamburger." We enjoyed that mid day treat now and then. On the way to town he said, "I fought at Belleau Wood. When the battle was over, the forest was gone." I was too young to know what he was saying. He was reminiscing.
He never spoke of that war to me again and I didn't ask. I should have, but didn't know it.
One day he was working on a trailer hitch when I came near him on his right a bit too quietly. I startled him and didn't understand. "I'm blind in that eye and didn't hear you coming," he said. I still didn't ask. It was mustard gas at the wood.
Grandpa died in 1985. He's been gone over thirty years now. I asked his wife, my grandmother, if I could have his military memorabilia. At least I did that right. Over the years since, I became a genealogist. When I began to study his history I decided to find out what this Belleau Wood business was. I began to understand why he still thought of it forty-two years after. He spoke very little about it to older members of the family. It wasn't just us kids.
The 2nd Division web site has been online for about fifteen years. It began as a regimental site for the 2nd Engineers. Today it may be the largest WW1 'A.E.F. division' site on the Internet. It currently holds more than 550 web pages and hundreds of images. Many of the thumbnail pictures lead to pages with even more pictures, not just a single picture. Please be aware that, unless you are the creator of a digital file on this web site, you do not have the right to post a file from this site to another web site. It is already on the Internet.
If you don't find the information you are searching for, ask about it. I might just have what you need to know!
You can honor your 2nd Division ancestor here. Photographs and biographical information are most welcome. Comments, stories, questions or research requests — whatever is on your mind — you can help us all learn and tell their story.
53% of the site's visitors are from the U. S.; 20% France; 15% United Kingdom; 7% Germany.