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    Clemson Ties to S.C. Army National Guard Begin with WWI Medal of Honor Recipients

    Clemson Ties to S.C. Army National Guard Begin with WWI Medal of Honor Recipients

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Erica Jaros | Army ROTC cadets from Clemson's Company C-4 Pershing Rifles conducts a 21-gun salute...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Erica Jaros 

    108th Public Affairs Detachment

    CLEMSON, S.C. – Over the course of a century, Clemson University has evolved from its roots as a small military college but its ties to the military have continued to strengthen and are honored annually during Military Appreciation Day.

    During World War I, more than 1,500 Clemson College men served across all branches of the military, including the South Carolina Army National Guard, which was quickly distinguishing itself as a military leader overseas.

    “There was a very strong military tradition, a very fierce pride, but also a tradition of taking Guard training very seriously in South Carolina,” said Joe Long, Curator of Education at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. “People were proud to be part of it.”

    In the summer of 1917, more than 375,000 National Guard Soldiers from across the United States were drafted into federal service. The 118th Infantry Regiment from South Carolina and three National Guard regiments from neighboring states were assigned to the 59th Brigade of the 30th Division.

    Just a few months earlier, the entire 1917 class at Clemson College volunteered for service; 54 Clemson men reported for training immediately.

    “This class shows the institutional values of Clemson, that a sense of duty was being instilled in these young men,” said Long. “As college graduates they were going to be leaders in society and they needed to take point, lead by example and face a national crisis.”

    In addition to the 1917 “War Class” volunteers, many faculty, staff and alum also volunteered or were called to serve. One of those alum was Theodore Gaines, Clemson class of 1909. He was drafted into the South Carolina Army National Guard's 118th Infantry as a first lieutenant.

    The 30th Division, including the 118th Infantry, arrived in Europe May 27, 1918 and saw combat in Belgium and France, most notably in the Ypres-Lys, and the Somme offensive, in which it was one of the two American divisions to break the Hindenburg Line in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal.

    “The 118th was one of the most elite combat regiments from the United States in World War I. You can't argue with the combat record of the heavy fighting that they did on the Hindenburg Line,” said Long. “The Hindenburg Line was the most imposing, most formidable set of German defenses.”

    The 118th Infantry Regiment was tasked with leading the offensive on the Hindenburg Line during late September and into October 1918. Breaking this line turned the tide of the war leading to the armistice signing on Nov. 11, 1918.

    According to division records and regimental history, during this offensive the 30th Division advanced more than 18,000 yards. The 118th Infantry occupied the front line during more than 14,000 yards of this charge. The Regiment is cited as having captured 48 heavy machine-guns, 166 light machine guns, 25 field guns, 72 trench mortars, and 2,850 rifles.

    Additionally, six Soldiers from the South Carolina Army National Guard's 118th Infantry Regiment were awarded the Medal of Honor, the most of any regiment in the American Expeditionary Forces.

    “It's astonishing that that many outstanding performers would be right there when it all came down,” said Long. “It also demonstrates that this unit was producing leaders. Some of these men were privates but these Medal of Honor exploits involve judgment and taking responsibility and initiative.”

    One of those men was Cpl. James Heriot of I Company, 118th Infantry. Heriot attended Clemson from 1910 to 1911, but left school a year before graduating. On Oct. 10, 1918 Heriot, with four other Soldiers, attacked an enemy machine-gun nest which was inflicting heavy casualties. In the advance two of his men were killed, and the other two sought shelter. Heriot fixed his bayonet and charged the machine-gun alone, making his way through the fire for a distance of 30 yards and forced the enemy to surrender. Later that day, while charging another machine-gun, he was killed.

    Just down the South Carolina line was Sgt. Gary Foster, F Company, 118th Infantry. A few days earlier on Oct. 8, 1918, when his company was held up by heavy fire, Foster and an officer went forward to attack the machine-gun nests. The officer was wounded, but Foster continued on alone and with only hand grenades and his pistol, killed several of the enemy and captured 18. After the war, Foster returned to South Carolina and attended Clemson’s one year agriculture program.

    “It's not so much about those six men, genuine heroes although they were, but representative of the sacrifice and the valor of the whole unit,” said Long.

    Heriot and Foster represented the values and dedication that thousands of South Carolinians brought to their service in the military and to their communities. Their names are among those listed on Clemson's Scroll of Honor which recognizes alumni who have given their lives in service to their country. Gaines was recently inducted into the Scroll of Honor with another Clemson cadet. The Army motivates its Soldiers, including those in college Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, to carry on that legacy today.

    “The Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are more than mere words that we recite,” said Lt. Col. Todd Crawford, Clemson Army ROTC Commander. “Taken together and integrated through an understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by the generations of Citizen-Soldiers who previously answered the call to defend America's freedom . . . those values become part of who we are and form the moral and ethical identity that inspire us and form the basis of our professional ethic.”

    History is taught so that it may guide us in the future. Over the past 100 years, Clemson cadets have learned and embodied the history of those who came before them.

    “Clemson's military history impacts the ROTC program by giving us an example of what to strive for in our character, integrity, and service to this country,” said Cadet Garren Bailey, Clemson Army ROTC. “Our alumni who have served have shown us what it means to be a leader and how individuals can impact this country as a whole.”

    Today, Clemson continues to utilize its relationship with military units across the South Carolina. 1st Lt. Mark Samuelson, executive officer for A Company, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, also serves as the Clemson Army ROTC scholarship and recruitment officer. His 14 years of service in the military is an asset when interacting with cadets.

    “The South Carolina National Guard mission is quite unique due to the hurricane assistance that we provide as well as all the different missions that the South Carolina Army National Guard is able to be a part of,” said Samuelson. “I can give cadets a first-hand experience of what it’s like and what to expect as an Infantry Officer for the National Guard.”

    This year, Clemson held its Military Appreciation Day in conjunction with The Citadel football game Nov. 18. The South Carolina Army National Guard, along with the Marines and Air Force, interacted with fans on Bowman Field, the former Clemson Corps parade ground, prior to the game.

    Veterans, service members and cadets were also recognized in the pre-game parade to Memorial Stadium. Before kick-off, Gold Star families were honored for their loved ones' sacrifices. The recognition carried on through the halftime show, with veterans of all branches recognized on the field, and a Soldier's Cross accompanied by a 21-gun salute from Clemson’s Pershing Rifles and the playing of Taps.

    “Involving Cadets in ceremonial events such as Military Appreciation Day is not only a way to show appreciation to past service members, but also a way to teach the future leaders of America the tradition and honor of being an American Soldier,” said Cadet Matthew Frazier, Clemson Army ROTC cadet battalion commander. “It is the Cadet's responsibility to never let their sacrifices go unappreciated or forgotten.”

    The Army Cadet Creed states, “I am the past - the spirit of the warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

    Clemson cadets and Soldiers of South Carolina’s 118th Infantry Regiment continue to demonstrate the loyalty and selfless-service exhibited by the Clemson Class of 1917 along with all the valiant Soldiers from South Carolina who were willing to give their all when the nation called.

    Men like Cpl. Heriot and Sgt. Foster.



    Date Taken: 11.18.2017
    Date Posted: 11.20.2017 12:55
    Story ID: 255890
    Location: CLEMSON, SC, US 

    Web Views: 312
    Downloads: 1