Each day, the VA honors a special military veteran for their dedicated service on their blog, VAntage Point. Today’s veteran is Army Veteran Frederick Clarence Stilson, who served during World War I from 1917 through the armistice.
Ferderick Stilson worked as an engineer at the Interstate Commerce Commission before he registered for the draft and served in the National Guard.
When the US joined the war after a German U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania on April 6, 1917, the National Guard was immediately mobilized, and Stilson was ordered to report to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, for training as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers. After five weeks of training, Stilson went to Fort Leavenworth in Missouri, and then went for more training at Camp Meade, Maryland until he set sail for Europe on Jan. 21, 1918.
Stilson went to Europe on a ship carrying 4,000 men plus cargo, a situation which Stilson described as “rats in a cage.” They arrived in Brest, France on February 3rd and Stilson was transported to St. Nazaire where he served at a U.S. base port. While there, Stilson’s unit checked and unloaded material, as well as built parking areas and roads.
After St. Nazaire, Stilson went to Toul, France to repair roads damaged by the German shells, putting him and his unit directly in the enemy’s firing lines. Stilson was the first American engineer officer to lead a group of men to repair roads on the Western front.
Thank you for your service.