May 1918 — Sequoyah County Oklahoma
Sequoyah County Democrat Sallisaw, Oklahoma Friday, May 10, 1918:
FIRST SEQUOYAH COUNTY BOY TO FALL IN BATTLE.
Eli Boothe, of Hanson, has been advised by the War Department at Washington, of the death of his son Private Willis Boothe on April 30th of wounds received in action. This is, we believe the first Sequoyah County boy reported injured in action.
Willis volunteered immediately after the declaration of war against Germany and left home April 15th, 1917, in company with Walter Rogers, another Hanson boy, and both entered the Regulars and were among the first U. S. Troops landed in France.
Willis Boothe was well known in this county and a former pupil of former County Superintendent of Schools, J. H. Dodson,
Sequoyah County Democrat Sallisaw, Oklahoma, April 15, 1921
WILLIS BOOTHE FUNERAL LARGELY ATTENDED
Beside the grave of his beloved mother in historic Akins cemetery, the body of Willis Boothe was laid in its final resting place last Sunday afternoon, April 10, 1921. The body had lain in state since the previous Wednesday in the Wheeler-Stevenson undertaking parlors on account of the postponed services. Inclement weather throughout the whole of the previous week has rendered it practically impossible to carry out the plans laid out by the American Legion members and ex-service men generally, and postponement was had until Sunday.
The services throughout were conducted under the auspices and ritual of the American Legion. Carnie Welch Post No. 27 of Sallisaw had previously expressed a heartfelt desire to take the funeral services in hand and conduct same, and all ex-service men in the county were invited to take part. A hearty response was given and dozens of former solider boys donned their uniforms and came to the grave of the first Sequoyah County solider to lay down his life for his country and fellow men, to pay their final respects and do him honor. Soldiers, sailors, and marines joined hands in this worthy mark of respect.
Post Commander, Bert Cotton officiated and carried out the ceremonies in keeping with the customary military ritual service. Dr. F. W. Harvey post chaplain delivered the eulogy and prayer at the grave site and in beautiful words conveyed to the hearts of his hearers a message of patriotism and in touching manner paid tribute to the memory of this loyal volunteer who had responded to the first call and who had given all that civilization might live and that the world might go forward instead of backward. Van G. Scruggs acted as Color Bearer, with accompanying guard composed of Charles Agent and Albert Young. When the body of the deceased was removed from the undertaking parlors to be conveyed to the cemetery, it was carried throughout a double line of ex-service men in regular formation under the command of Robert Welch. The funeral procession is said to have been the largest in the county in recent years and when the cemetery was reached the large host of friends and admirers who had gathered to do him last honors proved beyond doubt his popularity and true worth during the years that he lived. The body was conveyed to the grave and the service began at 2:30 P.M. in usual military style. Following the prayer and eulogy a salute of three volleys was fired over the grave by a squad of eight former soldiers in uniform composed of James McCullough, Ernest Spriggs, Redcloud Fleetwood, Ross Taylor, Jack Conway, Jess Fletcher, Geo. Bradley, and Delbert Cook. After the lowering of the body into the grave and the closing of the service taps was blown by Sgt. Slater a bugler in the army during the World war. His rendition of this important part of the service came as a most fitting climax to the beautiful service. Pall bearers who officiated were Ben H. Johnston, Richard Mills, Thomas Delaney, Ray O. Weems, Oscar Noble and Fred Byrd.
Plans are being made by the Carnie Welch post to start a monument fund at once, looking to the erection at a later date of a fitting monument to the memory of Willis Boothe. Inasmuch as he was the first Sequoyah County boy to lay down his life in the World war, it is but fitting and proper, that such a memorial be erected to his memory.
SEQUOYAH COUNTY DEMOCRAT Sallisaw Oklahoma, April 8 1921.
Across the top of the page is the following:
Willis Boothe was the first Sequoyah County boy to lay down his life in France for you Mr. Reader. Surely you will pause from worldly care and pleasure long enough Sunday to drive to Akins and do him last honors. He deserves that much.
OVERSEAS HERO TO BE BURIED SUNDAY
On Sunday April 10th, the remains of Willis Boothe, formerly a private in Company “E” 18th Infantry, 1st Division, will be laid in its final resting place at the Akins Cemetery. Private Willis Boothe was the first Sequoyah County boy to make the supreme sacrifice on the Field of Honor during the Great War. He volunteered his services immediately following the declaration of war, went overseas with the first American troops early in 1917.
“Stop the Huns” was the cry at the very edge of British supply bases, when General John J. Pershing with his handful of troops which were in France at the time were offered to the British. These men were thrown into the line early in October. Private Willis Boothe, of Sequoyah County was among those gallant young Americans to fill a place in that great defensive line to “Stop The Hun” from further advance on French soil. It was on April 26th of the following year that Private Boothe, while with his comrades were advancing and regaining French territory from the Huns, that he fell a victim to enemy fire. On this day he was mortally wounded and died five days later in the hospital.
Private Willis Boothe was just past his twenty first birthday and like many other Americans he left the plow in the field to answer the call of his country.
The funeral services will be held under the auspices of Carnie Welch post No. 27, American Legion of this city, the members of the organization and former service members who are not members of the post planning to be in attendance in force to conduct the services. The Carnie Welch firing squad with their rifles will pay the last tribute to Sequoyah County’s first hero.
Note: From research Willis must have been wounded in the Cantigny sector of France:
He had to have been wounded just prior to the start of major Offensive Operations that officially started on April 27th 1918.
The 1st Division, United States Army, was organized for service on 24 May 1917. It sailed on 14 June 1917 as The 1st Expeditionary Division and arrived in St. Nazaire, France on 21 June 1917.
First to embark, it was the last division to return home, and paraded in New York City on 10 September 1919.