Lieutenant Roy S. Miller (front) leads Jennings National Guard Unit back Home After World War I


Jennings National Guard unit served in World War I

Jennings, LA

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, over 100 years ago. At that time, the First Separate Troop, Louisiana Cavalry, of the U.S. Army National Guard operated in and around Jennings, La.
The troop, which is a company-sized unit (88 soldiers), was called into service by the president of the United States on March 31, 1917. Captain Louis J. Taylor was the troop commander. The troop was chosen for immediate activation because of the high level of readiness its soldiers maintained. The troop was mobilized at Jennings on April 1, 1917, and mustered into the United States Service on April 19, 1917. The troop was redesignated as Headquarters Troop, 42nd Division in August 1917.
Douglas MacArthur, who was then a major working at the War Department staff, came up with the idea of forming a division from non-divisional National Guard units of 26 states. Such an organization would “stretch out over several states like a rainbow.” The 42nd Division was formed in this manner, and MacArthur was promoted to colonel and served as the division's chief of staff. The 42nd Division was also called the Rainbow Division, with a rainbow forming a significant part of the unit’s patch.
The whole 42nd Division was born in August 1917, and it was organized in September 1917 at Camp Mills on Long Island, N.Y. The 42nd Division, which included the men of its Headquarters Troop from Jennings, arrived in France in November 1917 and entered the front line in March 1918, where it remained in almost constant contact with the enemy for 174 days. The Rainbow Division participated in four major campaigns: Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. During the war, Douglas MacArthur served with the 42nd Division. He was promoted to brigadier general and actually commanded the division for a short time at the end of hostilities in November 1918.
The 42nd Division was demobilized on May 10, 1919. The soldiers from the Division’s Headquarters Troop, formerly the First Separate Troop, Louisiana Cavalry, returned to Jennings on May 13, 1919. They returned home to a city-wide homecoming celebration courtesy of the citizens of Jennings. Veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War were on hand to welcome home these newest war veterans.
The photo for this story shows Lieutenant Roy S. Miller standing in front of his unit by the speaker's stand used for the welcome-home celebration. Lieutenant Miller led the troop from France during their return home in 1919.
Seven veterans from this troop (Roy S. Miller, Robert B. Ricker, L.E. Cole, Harry Noggle, John J. McHugh Jr., Frank M. Taylor and Jules Reaud) joined with 35 other World War I veterans in 1919 in order to form an American Legion post. On September 24, 1919, these men signed the Application for Post of American Legion. They elected to name their post (Post 19) after Captain James O. Hall, who had been a member of the First Separate Troop, Louisiana Cavalry, before the troop was called into service during World War I. Captain Hall died in service to his country during the war.
The charter for James O. Hall Post 19 was signed on December 10, 1921. However, post members began meetings and started conducting activities shortly after they submitted their application in September 1919. Roy S. Miller served as the first post commander, officially elected in 1920. The post’s legacy carries on to this day as its members continue to support the community through activities such as the Jennings American Legion Hospital and the Post 19 Honor Guard, which provides military honors at funerals of veterans whose services are conducted in Jefferson Davis Parish. Post members proudly maintain their efforts to serve God and Country.

« Previous story
Next story »