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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Walter Scott Homan Jr.
1897-1918

"I would rather lose in a cause that will some day win, than win in a cause that will some day lose!"

Woodrow Wilson

Walter Scott Homan Jr. was born on August 13, 1897, at Ruddle in Pendleton County, West Virginia. His father, Walter Scott Homan Sr., was a carpenter. Walter Sr. died on July 18, 1898, while Walter Jr. was an infant. In the 1900 Federal Census for the Mill Run District of Pendleton County, Walter Jr.ís widowed mother, Luna Hasley Byrd Homan, was enumerated with her two young sons, Virgil and Walter.

On June 25, 1901, Luna married William Pinkney Simmons in Tucker County. William was single and residing with his brotherís family in Davis, West Virginia. William and Luna were listed in the 1910 census as maintaining a farm in the Franklin District of Pendleton County. At that time Virgil Ray, Walterís brother, was living with his fatherís sister, Mary, and her husband, Benjamin Hammer. Walter Jr. made his home with his maternal grandmother, Fannie Byrd.

Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. When the call for volunteers failed to produce the needed one million troops to support the war effort, the Selective Service instituted the draft with the first registration on June 5, 1917, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. The second registration began on June 5, 1918, for men who had turned 21 since the first registration. The third registration started on September 12, 1918, for men ages 18 through 45.

On August 24, 1918, following his twenty-first birthday, Walter registered for the draft in Franklin, West Virginia. His registration card gave his employer as D.M. Byrd. Lacking photographs for many of the registrants, these draft registration cards are an important source of descriptive information. Walter was described as being single and of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and brown hair. He claimed no handicaps or exemptions, and he listed his mother as nearest of kin.

Homan Draft Registration Card

World War I draft registration card for Walter S. Homan Jr. National Archives and Records Administration

Walterís older brother Virgil Ray had registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. He was a student of veterinary medicine living at Franklin. His registration card described him as being single, of medium height, and stout, with gray eyes and brown hair. He claimed no handicaps or exemptions. Virgil was later called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War I. In 1942 he also registered for the draft for World War II.

In May 1917, Congress authorized an army installation in Maryland for training troops that were drafted for service in Europe. The site in Anne Arundel County was chosen on June 23, 1917, because of its close proximity to the railroad; the port of Baltimore; and Washington, D.C. The land was purchased for $37 per acre, and the camp was constructed at a cost of $18 million. More than 400,000 men were trained at this facility, which was named Camp Meade in honor of Major General Gordon Meade, famous for his victory at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

When Walter entered the U.S. Army he was attached to the 42nd Company of the 154th Depot Brigade at Camp Meade. Depot brigades were organized to receive recruits and provide them with uniforms, equipment, and initial military training prior to being sent to the front lines in France.

During October 1918, the Spanish influenza-pneumonia pandemic reached its height. Although American soldiers received inoculations for other diseases, such as smallpox, no inoculation was available at the time for influenza. It is estimated that over 675,000 Americans died during the influenza-pneumonia pandemic, and more than 43,000 service men died of this particularly virulent strain of the respiratory illness during World War I. Many victims died within hours of displaying symptoms. Others died of pneumonia after only a few days when their lungs filled with fluid, resulting in suffocation.

On October 9, 1918, just a little more than six weeks after he had registered for the draft, Walter S. Homan Jr. succumbed to pneumonia. He was buried near his parents in the Ruddle Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Pendleton County, West Virginia. His tombstone reads:

tombstone

Tombstone for Walter S. Homan Jr., Ruddle Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Courtesy Brenda Pruitt

On October 9, 1918, just a little more than six weeks after he had registered for the draft, Walter S. Homan Jr. succumbed to pneumonia. He was buried near his parents in the Ruddle Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Pendleton County, West Virginia. His tombstone reads:

Walter S.
Son of
W. S. and L. H. Homan
Born Aug. 13, 1897
Died Oct. 9, 1918
Aged
21 yrs. 1 mo.
26 days

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
April 2016

Honor...

Walter Scott Homan Jr.

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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