American Legion Post 19 pays tribute to its namesake

Jennings, LA

On Oct. 2, 2018, American Legion Post 19, Department of Louisiana, from Jennings conducted a memorial service at the gravesite of its namesake, Captain James O. Hall, who made the supreme sacrifice for his country on Oct. 2, 1918, during World War I - 100 years ago on this date, CPT Hall is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Jennings. During the ceremony Post 19 Commander Horace Naquin (left of wreath) and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 19 Secretary Gayle McFarlain (right of wreath) laid a wreath at CPT Hall’s grave. American Legion Department of Louisiana Chaplain Sam Doucet (right, wearing white cap) led everyone during the memorial service and prayer. Post 19 Honor Guard bugler Darrell Landry sounded Taps at the conclusion of the service.

CPT Hall was born on Jan. 25, 1889, in Lake Arthur, La. His parents are Dr. Edward Isaac Hall (born Jan. 29, 1850 – died Dec. 3, 1939) and Sarah Almira Estle (1857 – 1913). CPT Hall had 5 sisters and two brothers. He was a graduate of Jennings High School. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1913.

In high school and at LSU he enjoyed the reputation for being an excellent athlete, particularly on the football field. He was a 4-year letterman at LSU, where he played end on the football team from 1909 to 1912. His teammates called him “Doc.”

While at LSU he was an esteemed and respected member of the First Separate Troop, Louisiana Calvary, from Jennings, a National Guard unit. He attained the rank of sergeant while with this unit. He represented his cavalry troop on their rifle team and did very well. He was named to the Louisiana State Rifle Team, composed of military units from throughout the state, and attended the U.S. Army Marksmanship Championship at Camp Perry, Ohio, in 1909. Also during his time at LSU, he was a member of the military company there, serving with distinction. He was also a valued member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity at LSU.

After he graduated from LSU in 1913, he worked with his father at the Jennings Post Office. In January 1914 he traveled to Puerto Rico, where he taught in the public schools and engaged in work for the Revenue Department. He returned to the United States in 1916 and taught at Lake Charles High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army in May 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I. He was in the first Officer Training Camp conducted at Fort Logan H. Roots in Arkansas.

CPT Hall did very well during the 12 weeks of Officer Training Camp. When he graduated, he received a direct commission to first lieutenant. He was then assigned to Fort Pike, Ark., where he compiled an exemplary record training three companies of soldiers. He was promoted to captain and was transferred to Fort Meade, Md., where he was assigned as a training officer with the 71st Infantry Regiment. It was during that time that he was stricken with influenza, from which he did not recover. He died at Fort Meade on Oct. 2, 1918. He was one of the casualties of the influenza pandemic of 1918, which infected 500 million people worldwide, resulting in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people, roughly 3 to 5 percent of the world population. There were more soldiers in World War I who died from the “Spanish Flu” than those who died in combat. The pandemic had a devastating effect on the military at that time.

CPT Hall’s remains were sent home to Jennings. On Sunday, Oct. 6, 1918, his body lay in state at the Jefferson Davis Parish courthouse. Hundreds of friends went to pay tribute to the young hero who gave his life for his country. Schoolchildren marched to the court house to honor the brave boy who had graduated from their school.

At 11 am the pallbearers, veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars, bore the flag draped casket to the 1st Christian Church of Jennings, where the solemn service was held. CPT Hall was a devoted and consecrated member of this church congregation. Reverend Gray, pastor of the church, read the selection from the scripture for the burial service. Reverend I. E. Adams, a friend of CPT Hall and a former pastor of the church, gave a eulogy of the splendid young man’s life, and in a beautiful and impressive manner spoke of the clean record and high character of CPT Hall.

At the conclusion of the services at the church, the procession moved to Greenwood Cemetery where the military honors were rendered. A rifle team composed of U.S. Army soldiers from Gerstner Field in Lake Charles fired the salute. The rose-laden casket was then lowered into the grave. Then Taps were sounded and all that was mortal of James O. Hall was laid to rest. CPT Hall is interred next to the gravesites of his parents.

It is an honor for Post 19 of The American Legion, Department of Louisiana, to be named after an outstanding soldier and hero like Captain James O. Hall.

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