Washington County's World War I Dead -- By David Bennett



World War I was devastating in the number of lives that it claimed. Washington County, however, only suffered three fatalities. One man was killed in action while the other two men were casualties of the influenza pandemic. A deadly strain of influenza was brought to North America from war torn Europe in the fall of 1918. It claimed the lives of many American servicemen and civilians at home.
James Jethro, a farmer from Mackey’s, North Carolina, and a member of the 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division, was killed in action during an assault on the Hindenburg Line in late September 1918. He was the only man from Washington County to be killed in action during World War I. Tragically, he left behind a widowed mother. The American Legion Post in Plymouth is named after Jethro in his honor.
Bismark Wheelock was an African-American from Plymouth, North Carolina, who owned a laundry business. Shortly after he registered for the draft, Wheelock married his sweetheart, Hannah Elizabeth Forrest. It is possible that Wheelock believed he would be drafted and never return from the Western Front. Wheelock, however, never made it to Europe. While preparing to be shipped overseas, at Camp Merritt, New Jersey, Wheelock contracted influenza and died suddenly in October 1918. During segregation, the African-American chapter of the American Legion in Plymouth was named in his honor.
Grover C. Oliver, a farmer from Creswell, North Carolina, died of influenza while training at Camp Jackson, South Carolina, in November 1918. By this time, the war was coming to an end and he would never have seen combat.
When considering all American fatalities from World War I, 42 percent were from combat while over 52 percent were from disease. Influenza killed more Americans than any other disease during World War I accounting for nearly 84 percent of disease related fatalities. Rates of infection in training camps were particularly high with over 316,000 diagnosed cases of influenza in the fall of 1918. Even though Wheelock and Oliver died in the United States, the war still found a way to claim their lives.
Washington County's World War I Dead -- By David Bennett Washington County's World War I Dead -- By David Bennett Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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