The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 12.


It Was 20 Years Ago that Company L Joined Uncle Sam's Hunt For Pancho Villa

Twenty years ago in June, 1916, Company L, Third Indiana Infantry, of Valparaiso, composed of Valparaiso and Porter county young men, left to join Uncle Sam's regulars in the punitive expedition against the Mexican bandit war leader, Pancho Villa.

Valparaiso gave the soldiers a real sendoff. At the Pennsylvania depot, upwards of 2,500 people gathered to see their prides off. The call to arms -- long awaited by the patriotic members of the local guard until brought its grief as well as its glory. Mothers, wives, sweethearts and children wept and and even strong men vented their sorrow in tears.

The company had only been given one-half hour to prepare for entraining. As Captain Edward T. Heineman read the order to proceed to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, the solider ranks broke into enthusiastic cheering. Within a short space of time everything was loaded, and an olive drabbed column, riffed tipped, passed down the street leading to the depot.

When the order was received there was considerable stir. The court house bell was rung. At this notification the crowd gathered rapidly. The city band assembled. The Foster Lumber and Coal company closed its shops.

As the crowd milled about the station touching scenes were enacted. Many a kiss was imprinted on the lips of soldiers, and many a rose was pinned on uniforms. Finally the train moved in, boys marched into the two rear coaches. Again goodbyes were said and the considerate engineer, in due respect to the occasion, drew the train out of the station with his locomotive puffing ever so gently.

Hands and hats were waved from the windows, and from the crowd went up cheers, hands, hats and handkerchiefs and down went the sorrow deeper into the hearts of those left behind.

Over the valley to the south the deep-toned whistle of the Chicago Mica company blew salute after salute until the train and its patriotic occupants had disappeared around the curve behind the buildings of the Valparaiso univeristy.

"My Country 'Tis of Thee," was appropriately rendered by the band. Then the crowd filed silently back to their appointed tasks in store, shop, factory and home. The city's fighting representatives had been given a rousing sendoff.

At Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Company L members submitted to a physical examination, and given the regular "shots" for typhoid and smallpox. After fifteen days in camp, during which the men were put through strenuous maneuvers and given equipment for fighting, Company L entrained on a special train for Mercedes, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley, about four miles from the Mexican border.

Because the tent equipment of Company L was not placed aboard the train when the members entrained, for six weeks the men lived in shelter halves or pup tents. The temperature was 120 in the shade and mesquite and scrub oak was the only shelter from the blistering heat.

Previous to the arrival of the company, little rain had fallen, but after the company had pitched camp, rain fell every day, making it so muddy that the shoes of the soldiers were virtually pulled off.

Then began strenuous training. Long arduous hikes brought broken arches and blistered feet. Maneuvers were began, the men being taught warfare that would have been put into practice had a Mexican invasion been undertaken. During this training they were inspected by Major-General John J. Pershing, later commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.

During their stay in Texas, Company L was assigned to the task of building roads and digging ditches. The men also laid out and constructed a water system for the camp supply, the water having to be boiled before being used.

The Texas training was a round of unforgettable annoyances -- the pestering of vermin of all sorts, chiggers, ticks and scorpions. There were some illnesses, but no deaths. Only a few short brushes were experienced with Mexicans who came across the river, otherwise the company members experienced no real war battles.

In the latter part of January, 1917, the troops were brought back to God's country -- Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, landing fresh from a tropical atmosphere of sixty to seventy degrees, in weather below zero.

After a thorough inspection and checkup -- more thorough because of the war abroad -- troops were mustered out of the federal service and back into the station national guard service.

Officers of Company L in 1916-17 were: Edward T. Heineman, captain; Ernest W. Thralls, first lieutenant; H. F. Merriman, second lieutenant; Roy L. Pierce, first sergeant; Ray H. Ward, first duty sergeant; Floyd McNiece, second duty sergeant; Earl Sherwood, third duty sergeant; P. J. Bailey, fourth duty sergeant; J. Hudson Deardorf, Herbert G. Swartz, J. R. Jones, C. A. Pratt, H. G. Mayes, Earl Themanson and Morton E. Oxley, corporals; J. M. Lentz, color sergeant, Third Indiana Regiment.

Privates in the company personnel included: Morton E. Anderson, Roy Bagby, D. Wayne Beach, Noble S. Beasley, Delbert Beem, Donald R. Bryant, Donald W. Blackburn, John W. Blade, Ennis W. Bullock, Franklin J. Burrus, John Carling, Arthur J. Connelly, Benjamin H. Cooper, William E. Craig, Leslie L. DeWitt, Florence Donahue, John J. Doughton, Ford P. Esehelman, Chauncey Farrell, William Forney, Lloyd E. Ganyard, Clarence Gardner, Frank M. Gay, Charles Gibbs, Edward N. Graham, Raymond C. Hayworth, Walter L. Heisler.

Laban B. Jackson, Joseph H. Jenkins, Walter P. Jeschke, Arthur D. Keene, James W. Keliher, Jesse A. Kitchens, Lloyd O. Koons, Wilfred Lebrecque, Lauren F. Maudlin, Dominick J. McNulty, Ebbo Miller, Harold H. Morrow, Warren Nutter, Thor E. Nybladh, Charles Olson, Erwin S. Parker, Orion E. Parker, George C. Phillips, Leroy Pratt, George R. Read, Jarrell R. Reams, Maurice Reiongold, Elmer I. Robinette, Byron B. Robinson, Charles H. Scheirer, Jacob E. Sells, Augustus Smith, Cecil J. Smith, Harrison B. Steward, Elam L. Stewart, John S. Stoddard, Harold C. Varner, David L. White, Minor E. White, Charles D. Williams, Maurice M. Wolfe, Clifton F. Woolsey, Onni A. Wuolle, Edward G. Zarth.

During the World War, Company L, which had been inactive since its return from the Mexican border, resumed drilling and decided to make every effort to bring the company to full strength. June 21, 1918, the company enrolled thirty-six new members, bringing the company to full military strength, 106 men.

They were in perfect readiness when called into service under the command of Captain Ernest W. Thralls, who succeeded Captain E. T. Heineman; First Lieutenant Houston F. Merriman, and Second Lieutenant Floyd R. McNiece, the company departed for Camp Shelby, at Hattiesburg, Miss., for preliminary training before departing for service abroad.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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