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    Vermont National Guard Honors WWI

    World War One Centennial Memorial

    Photo By 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard | Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Vermont National Guard Adjutant General, presents Howard Scott,...... read more read more

    The Vermont National Guard participated in two events at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. honoring Americans who served 100-years ago in the War to End All Wars.

    The Nation Served: Wreath Laying Tribute to the States and Territories was the first event on November 8th. A wreath was laid in Pershing Park memorializing the men and women from each state and territory who served in World War One.

    “It is a tremendous honor to be here and represent the state of Vermont during this ceremony,” Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, Vermont National Guard Adjutant General. “This event is part of the many World War One Centennial memorial events the Vermont National Guard has been honoring throughout the year.”

    The United States World War One Centennial Commission hosted the event to honor the service members of WWI and give a first look at the National World War I memorial that will eventually stand in Pershing Park.

    “This summer, myself and members of the Vermont National Guard visited numerous sites in France to see where our Green Mountain Boys fought and where sadly many lost their lives during The Great War,” said Cray. “This simple act of laying a wreath here in Pershing Park, which will be the First World War One memorial, is more than laying a wreath. It is the dedication to each and every service member who served 100-years ago and the idea that we will never forget their sacrifices.”

    Cray and Vermont National Guardsmen were invited by France memorializing the WWI Centennial where the battles were fought. It was those battlefields where Cray and his staff took the Guidon from the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain), whose lineage travels back to those same battlefields, to once again walk to same steps as those Vermonters.

    “We walked where our predecessors walked a century ago,” 1st Sgt. Seth Wilkinson, Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain). “I stood in the trenches, I saw the shell casings, and I could see the impact that war still holds on the ground we walked through. There is nothing remotely possible to describe that trip and what those warriors went through.”

    On the following day in Washington, D.C., November 9th, war medals and France battlefield soil was presented to Howard Scott, the nephew of 1st Lt. Jason Hunt, a Vermont fighter pilot with the 27th Aero Day (Fighter) Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group.

    Hunt was killed in action on August 1, 1918 in Chateau-Thierry, France. The war would end three months later on November 11 with the signing of an armistice agreement. Hunt was a Johnson, Vermont native and one of three Vermont pilots killed in WWI.

    “I researched Lt. Hunt’s life starting the day I saw his name in the chapel at Aisen-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau, Picardie, France,” said Maj. Zachary Fike, 86th IBCT (MTN) logistics officer who also runs a non-profit that returns war medals to military members and their relatives. “During our France visit, I looked on the wall and I saw his name on the wall like it was calling to me. ‘Hunt Jason S. Vermont.’ I felt the energy reaching out and it was remarkable to see his name there. I needed to know who this man was.”

    Fike began his research to find the history of Hunt and to find his family.

    He discovered that Hunt was a 1915 University of Vermont graduate and commissioned in the Vermont State Guard following graduation. Hunt was also following in his father’s footsteps to be a lawyer and entered Harvard Law School that same year. In May, 1917, he left law school during his second year to attend the 1st Officers Training Camp in Plattsburg, New York. He immediately sought entrance into the military to serve during the war.

    Hunt’s mission as a member of the Day Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron was to engage and clear enemy aircraft from the skies and provide escort to reconnaissance and bombardment squadrons over enemy territory.

    “On August 1st, 1918, while operating in the Chateau-Thierry sector, Hunt was sent on a mission with five other planes to protect an observation machine. Once in enemy territory, they were attacked and overwhelmed by 20 German planes,” explained Fike. “The observation machine made its way towards safety and the pilots of the 27th Aero Day Squadron performed their full duty to protect it.”

    The observation machine did make it back to base with the photographs, but both the pilot and observer were killed. All but one American plane were also shot down. Hunt is still considered missing in action according to Fike.

    “One of the most amazing aspects of Hunt’s life is that he shared the battlefield with his brother,” said Fike. “Bertron A. Hunt Jr. was serving on the ground with Company E, 101st Ammunition Train, 26th Infantry Division, while his brother Jason flew above providing support in the skies.”

    Maj. Gen. Cray read the biography of 1st Lt. Jason Hunt and presented soil from France to Hunt’s nephew, Howard Scott, during the ceremony.

    “This is truly remarkable to be a part of this family’s story. It is humbling, inspiring, and something that sticks with us all,” said Cray. “I feel connected to Hunt as a pilot who came before me and as one of the first pilots from Vermont to ever serve in the skies. It was my honor to be here today and be part of another amazing chapter in his astonishing legacy.”

    Members of the Vermont National Guard served in the 26th Infantry Division during WWI. Over 1,500 Soldiers from Vermont fought in the Great War. Prior to the trip to France, the Vermont National Guard hosted a ceremony in April 2018 honoring Cpl. Leonard Lord, the first Vermonter killed in WWI. While in France the Vermont contingent also found the name of Cpl. Lord engraved on a wall of a church located in Belleau Wood. The church is the lone monument to the 26th Infantry Division. The original church was destroyed during battle, and rebuilt from donations given from members of the 26th Division. A Vermont state flag flies in the church.



    Date Taken: 01.01.2019
    Date Posted: 01.07.2019 13:58
    Story ID: 306355
    Location: D.C., WA, US

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