Wanted: Photos of Iowa’s Fallen Heroes From World War I
A century ago, the horrors of World War I claimed the lives of more than 3,500 Iowans who were serving their country.
The list includes Merle Hay of Glidden, who was among the first men to be killed in action, and Wayman Minor of Centerville, who was among the last. The first U.S. service woman to be killed during active service in the war was Marion Crandall of Cedar Rapids.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is honoring their sacrifice by creating a “World War I Honor Roll,” a display of names and photographs of Iowa service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The display will open on Memorial Day weekend 2018 at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, as part of the museum’s ongoing commemoration of America’s role 100 years ago in the Great War.
But we need your help. We’re gathering photos of as many Iowa casualties as we can find.
Here’s the backstory: In 1920, the Iowa Department of History and Archives contacted Iowa families who had lost members to the war and requested information and photos of those loved ones. In response, the department received about 2,700 names and images of Iowa service men and women who were killed in action, died of disease, wounds or accident, or missing.
Those records are held today in the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Research Center and will be the basis of the new display.
But those submissions are short of the 3,576 Iowans on the list of World War I casualties, and we need your help to fill in the missing pieces.
If you’d like to help, please visit iowaculture.gov/honorroll to see the historical society’s current list of Iowa’s World War I casualties and learn how to contribute to the project. All submissions will be reviewed and may be included in the display.
To learn more about Iowa’s role in the war, visit the “Iowa and the Great War” exhibit at the State Historical Museum of Iowa.
Meantime, here are a few names you might recognize:
Merle D. Hay of Glidden is best known as the first Iowan and one of the first three Americans killed after the United States entered World War I. Most people associate his name with a heavily traveled thoroughfare running from Des Moines to Camp Dodge or the shopping mall on that same street.
A Glidden farm boy who loved horses, Hay worked at an implement store when the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917. He joined the army in May and shipped out to France three weeks later.
He was killed in the early morning of Nov. 3, 1917, as a sentry in the trenches near Artois, France, and buried at Bathelemont, France. In July 1921, his remains were returned to Iowa and re-interred at the West Lawn Cemetery in Glidden.
Learn more about Iowa’s best-known war hero in The Annals of Iowa, Volume 39, Number 1 (Summer 1967).
Wayman “Wayne” Minor of Centerville was the last American to be killed in World War I, just three hours before leaders signed the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.
A son of slaves, he was one of 13 children and moved in the early 1900s to Diamond, a small community in Johns Township in Appanoose County. His father, Ned Minor, farmed and worked in the coal mines.
The younger Minor enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with Company A, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, an all-black combat unit.
After his eleventh-hour death, Wayman was buried in the Saint Mihiel American Cemetery at Thiaucort, France. Here in Iowa, his name is on a bronze tablet on the World War I Arch of Remembrance memorial at Oakland Cemetery in Centerville.
Learn more about Wayman in Joe Louis Mattox’s article in the Jackson County (Missouri) Historical Society Journal (Autumn 2007).
Marion Crandall of Cedar Rapids was the first U.S. service woman killed in active service during World War I.
Born in Cedar Rapids in April 1872, she taught French in Davenport at St. Katherine’s School (known today as St. Katherine’s-St. Mark’s).
Just before her 46th birthday, she joined the Y.M.C.A’s United States Christian Commission (an agency to support Allied troops) so she could go back to France and teach French to U.S. and Allied soldiers.
In February 1918, she arrived in France and started working at a Y.M.C.A canteen in Sainte-Menehould. A month later, a German artillery shell landed in her room and exploded. She died of her wounds a short time later and was temporarily buried in Sainte-Menehould, then laid to permanent rest nearby in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial.
Learn more about Marion and the roles other Iowa woman filled in active service during World War I.
— Jeff Morgan, Iowa Department of Cultural Affaris