National Guard memorializes WWI soldiers by laying a wreath
By JENNIFER McDERMOTT
Aug. 24, 2018
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Soldiers from the Rhode Island National Guard memorialized their predecessors' service and sacrifice by laying a wreath Friday at a World War I monument.
The 103rd Field Artillery Battalion held the ceremony in Providence. Remembrance events are being held throughout Rhode Island leading up to the centennial of the war's end, Nov. 11, 2018.
Rhode Island's 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery was drafted for overseas service in the American Expeditionary Forces and went to France in October 1917. Current battalion commander Lt. Col. Jeffrey Samon said they look to their predecessors for inspiration and pride.
"We pride ourselves on being the current generation of a long line of artillerymen and women who stand ready to support the state and the nation," Samon said.
Samon and retired Brig. Gen. Richard J. Valente, a former battalion commander, placed the wreath by the monument.
The unit participated in several battles after moving to the front lines in February 1918 and was recognized for valorous conduct for repelling enemy attacks near Seicheprey, France, according to the National Guard. The names of the 66 soldiers who were killed during WWI were read aloud during the ceremony.
Matthew McCoy, who leads Rhode Island's WWI Centennial Commission, talked about the importance of the unit's service and sacrifice and the importance of remembrance. He asked the current soldiers attending the ceremony to "remember those that went before you, tell their stories to your comrades in arms and keep their memory alive."
The audience included the daughters of John O'Connor, who served in the battalion during WWI. Susan O'Connor and Nancy O'Connor Baughman said their father returned home and married when he was 50 years old. They said the ceremony was lovely.
The 103rd Field Artillery supports infantry forces with artillery fire. Its members deployed to Iraq in 2004 and to Kuwait in 2010, Samon said. They recently took part in a military readiness exercise in Michigan.