To commemorate the rifle pit’s centennial year in 2018, a collection of military photographs are displayed on the WWI Wall of Honor during fundraising and special occasions, such as the annual Derby Day fundraiser in May. Additions are welcome and can be included by sending a copy of a photograph of your family member in uniform, their rank, unit/division, any stories about them and the war.
Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range
5 Foxfire Trace
Caswell Beach, NC 28465
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are working to post photos and stories as quickly as we can. Information may be edited for length. Photographs are displayed in alphabetical order. Click photos to enlarge.
Submitted by Ruth Ann Baker McLelland:
Submitted by Leddy Polity; Caswell Beach, NC:
Hamilton played the bugle in the Army band at Army hospitals, giving concerts to provide morale boosting entertainment for the troops. They played in nearby French towns to reinforce a positive relationship between the two countries. The Military field bands often led troops into battle, out of the trenches, and served as stretcher bearers. Hamilton is second from the left.
Submitted by Lucia Bland Lister; Southport, NC:
Seaman Clyde Bland left college at the University of Kentucky in 1917 to enter the Navy and serve on the USS Texas during WWI. When discharged in 1919, he returned, graduating in 1920 as president of his class. Clyde’s service was documented in a diary he kept. Lucia Bland Lister is Seaman Clyde Bland’s daughter.
Clyde’s brother Leroy Bland also left the University of Kentucky to join the war effort by enlisting in the Army. He returned to the university and became an outstanding football player but left before graduating to become manager of a Cuba sugar plantation. Leroy is Lucia Bland Lister’s uncle.
Clyde and Leroy’s brother Charles Bland joined the Navy and served on the USS Tacoma that was in the South Seas. The ship sunk later but not by the enemy. He returned to the University of Kentucky to complete his education. Charles is Lucia Bland Lister’s uncle.
Submitted by Dennis Wrynn; Kure Beach, NC:
Edward Clarkson Bonnell enlisted in the Army April 1918 from Bay Head, NJ. “Bonny” fell mortally wounded early in the advance of the Hindenburg Line, dying in hospital October 2. Dennis Wrynn rescued these photographs and artifacts from an estate sale and displays them to honor Private Bonnell and his sacrifice.
Submitted by Carol Johnert; Rochester, NY:
Andrew Robertson “Scotty” Calder was born August 8, 1896, in Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland. He served with the New York Motor Transport Corp. Company 429. Andrew died March 22, 1935. Andrew Robertson Calder is Carol Johnert’s grandfather.
Private First Class Louis “Lolly” B. Doerr (far left) was stationed at Camp Upton in Laphank, NY, while awaiting transport to ship overseas. (Irving Berlin wrote “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” while stationed at this camp.) On September 26, 1918, Louis was bringing in German prisoners when they came under artillery fire. Louis continued moving the prisoners into the shelter when a shell burst, killing him and two other prisoners instantly. Louis B. Doerr is Carol Johnert’s husband’s great uncle.
Submitted by Ruth M. Carver; Oak Island, NC:
Chalmer W. Carver, Sr. served in France from 1917-1918 as a corporal in the Engineering Corps of the 29th Division. He participated in the Battle of the Marne among others. He was active early in the formation of the American Legion in Trenton, New Jersey. His uniform is on display at a VFW post in New Jersey. Chalmer W. Carver, Sr. is Ruth M. Carver’s father-in-law.
Submitted by Jane B. Henry:
Private Harry Chinnis was a resident of Brunswick County and served in Germany. Harry is pictured on the right. Written on the back of the photograph is the notation, “Made in Neuwich Germany on the Rhine April 1, 1919”. Private Harry Chinnis is Jane B. Henry’s maternal grandmother’s brother.
Also submitted by Jane B. Henry, this photograph of Brunswick County recruits from 1914. Second row, third from the right is possibly Floyd King Henry, her husband’s uncle. Front row, left, is Marvin Robbins, grandfather of Patricia Robbins of Virginia.
Submitted by Jackie Craft:
Rolla Clinton Clark was born in Hazel Green, Kentucky, in 1894. He was an unmarried farmer when he joined WWI in June 1917. On his return, he continued farming and spent his life in Iowa until his death in 1982. Rolla Clinton Clark is Jackie Craft’s uncle.
Submitted by Frazer Crane, Jr.; Southport, NC:
First Lt. Donald Frazer Crane entered the U.S. Army August 27, 1917, at Plattsburgh Barracks, NY, as a Cadet in the Artillery. He was assigned to the 5th Battery Second Officer’s Training Camp. He served overseas from May 1918 to October 1919, and participated in Grand-Pre; Meuse-Argonne; St. Mihiel; Baltic Mission in Finland and Baltic States. He was discharged as a 1st Lt Battery “F” 308th Field Artillery. He married in 1922, then later lived in New Canaan, CT, until his death on May 28, 1953. First Lt. Donald Frazer Crane is Frazer Crane, Jr.’s father.
Submitted by Ronald Eckard; Caswell Beach, NC:
Pvt. Willis Sanford Eckard enlisted in the U.S. Army May 12, 1918. He served overseas from July 1918 to February 1919 in the Sixth Division, 52nd Infantry, and participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. He married in 1925 and was father to several stepchildren, having none of his own. Exposure to mustard gas damaged his lungs, causing chronic health issues. It also appears he struggled with PTSD and aphasia. Willis spent his last 25+ years in Veterans Facilities, ultimately passing away in 1966 at the facility in Mountain Home, Tennessee. Pvt Willis Sanford Eckard is Ronald Eckard’s great uncle. Information about Ronald’s ancestors can be found in his book, Eckards: From the Rhine to Limerock.
Cecil Vernon Miller left his home in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in March 1918 for Camp Lee. He was 26 and had lost his first wife several months earlier. He was in the battles of Verdun and Argonne Forest, and was “Over the Top” twice before being wounded during the third time, suffering from a shell wound on the right side of his face below the ear. Cecil remarried in 1921, had three children, and became the owner and operator of Miller’s Feed Store for 30 years in Bedford. Cecil died in 1968. Cecil Vernon Miller was the father-in-law of Ronald Eckard’s uncle.
Pvt. John Sterling Taylor was a member of the 72d Bombardment Squadron during WWI. His previous experience was in the WV National Guard for 5 months, which made him part of the 28% of soldiers with prior experience. John ultimately succumbed after a long battle with “far advanced” tuberculosis in 1941 at Oteen Sanitarium in Asheville, NC, leaving behind a wife and five young children. The WV American Legion of Cheat Valley met his body near his home but it is unknown where he was buried. Pvt. John Sterling Taylor was the stepson of Pvt. Willis Sanford Eckard, Ronald Eckard’s great uncle.
Submitted by Jim Ring & Margery Ring Leuschner:
Edward Farrell was a decorated veteran of World War I (Distinguished Service Cross). He returned home to Hartford, CT, and became a firefighter. On Halloween Eve 1939 he was killed while responding to an alarm of fire. Edward Farrell is Jim Ring & Margery Ring Leuschner’s great uncle.
Submitted by Monika Satterwhite; Southport, NC:
PFC Frank J. Fetta from Chicago served from 1917 – 1919. After fighting in France, he marched to Germany in November 1918, then returned to France and back to the USA. During this time, he kept a war diary, which was later typed by his daughter and distributed to the family. He died May 12, 1984. PFC Frank J. Fetta is Monika Satterwhite’s grandfather.
Submitted by Lee Gaylor Reynolds and Walter Kenneth Gaylor III:
In 1918, while stationed with the Quartermaster Corps at Fort Caswell, Walter Kenneth Gaylor was married to Lina Bowen Edwards at her home at 308 Church St. Walter enlisted May 1, 1916, and was discharged November 26, 1918, as a Sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps. Walter died September 12, 1955, and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, NC. Quartermaster Sergeant Walter Kenneth Gaylor is the grandfather of Lee Gaylor Reynolds and her twin brother Walter Kenneth Gaylor III.
Submitted by Karen Freeman:
One of three Green ancestors who served in World War I, Clyde Eugene Green suffered mustard gas poisoning during his service in France from 1917-1918 and later developed TB. Clyde is Harriet Barlowe’s distant cousin.
Submitted by Peggy Harris:
Ben W. O. Hildebrandt was born October 5, 1897, son of Henry Benard and Lina Weiman Hildebrandt of Westhoff, DeWitt County, Texas. He saw several months service on the Mexican border before shipping out to France with the gallant 90th Division, Company “E” 141 U. S. infantry. Ben gave his life on the battlefield in France on October 8, 1918, almost immediately after his 21st birthday.
Submitted by Dale Coleman Spencer; Wilmington, NC:
Private Jackson Berry Potter of the 117th Engineer Train, 155th Depot Brigade, 4th Company, US Army, was born November 15, 1896, in Brunswick County, NC, and died July 30, 1972. Great Uncle Jack was the brother of Dale’s Great Grandfather, Santa Ana Potter. Dale visited him at his farm many times as a child.
Submitted by Joyce Crabtree; Caswell Beach, NC:
Private Robert Eugene Robbins from Southport, NC, enlisted April 1918 at age 22 and served in 81st Infantry; 324 Infantry Regiment. In France he fought at St. Die and Meuse-Argonne Offensive aka Battle of the Argonne Forest. He was discharged June 18, 1919. Private Robbins is Joyce Crabtree’s grandfather.
Submitted by Norman Sprinthall; Caswell Beach, NC:
Norman also visited the church in Belleau. The original church was destroyed by American artillery and rebuilt using funds raised by the 26th Division’s veterans, completed and dedicated in 1929. The plaque over the door carries the inscription: This church, destroyed during the world war, has been rebuilt by the veterans of the 26th Division of the American Expeditionary Force in memory of their comrades who fell on the soil of France while fighting for a common cause.
Submitted by Richard Henry (Strzempek) Arvonio; Ocean Isle, NC:
The son of Polish immigrants, Robert Anthony Strzempek II lied about his age and joined the Army at age 16 in April 1917 at Ft. Solcum, NY. Robert trained in Companies “H” or “L”, 18th Cavalry. Robert is Richard Henry (Strzempek) Arvonio’s great uncle.
Robert served in Battery “F”, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division and participated in many battles in France, including the Champagne Marne Defensive and the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Robert was killed in action on October 19, 1918, three months after his 18th birthday and nearly one month before Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, ending the war.
Julia Maciejewski-Strzempek made the Gold Star Mothers & Widows Pilgrimage alone in 1930 to visit her son Robert’s grave at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France. The World War I Victory Medal with 5 US Army Battle Clasps was Posthumously awarded to Robert but no Purple Heart had been awarded.
The Strzempek-Arvonio family has a long and proud history of service in the U.S. Military beginning with the Civil War and continuing through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Submitted by Lois Sprinthall; Caswell Beach, NC:
Submitted by Diane Connaty:
Private Weaver, first from the right, wrote many diary entries to his mother, a widow. Private Weaver was Diane Connaty’s grandfather. Diane has used many of his diary entries in her middle school history classes.