20 brave men celebrated by WWI monument in GA

Published: 8 June 2024

By David Baker
via the Marietta Times newspaper (GA) website

Marietta, GA Ambulance unit

There is a monument at the corner of Gilman and Virginia streets in Harmar. It sits near busy traffic lanes, yet offers a serene view of the Ohio River. It was a gift of France, donated as part of the Northwest Territory Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1937-38 in appreciation for the service of the World War I Marietta College Ambulance Corps.

On Oct. 17, 1920, the Ambulance Corps members were decorated by French military attaché General Collardet for their “noble service.” The solemn ceremony took place in Muskingum Park in the presence of college faculty and community members.

Twenty young men, primarily students from Marietta College and Miami University, had volunteered in 1917 to serve in the Ambulance Corps. Beman G. Dawes, Jr. organized the group with help from his father and others. The group received a rousing send-off by thousands of Mariettans on May 22.

They landed in France at Bordeaux bearing the first American flag carried by a military organization in WWI. They ended up driving trucks with ammo and supplies, not ambulances, yet the “Ambulance Corps” moniker stuck. It was strenuous, dangerous duty, often conducted at night.

Several letters from corps members gave fascinating views of their experience.

Donley Parr from Dayton wrote to his brother that the liner Rochambeau, which transported the men, was followed by German U-Boats. In the U-Boat zone of the Atlantic, passengers slept on deck in chairs.” Luckily for them, they saw no submarines, but U-Boats sank the Mississippi which followed their boat.

On landing at Bordeaux, no one greeted them; they had to fend for themselves at first. He described the country as very attractive and beautiful…It’s wonderful to see the great (patriotic) enthusiasm for their cause. We in America do not appreciate what it means to be fighting for existence.


Read the entire article on the Marietta Times website here:

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