A FAMILIAR NAME IN A LESSER KNOWN ROLE: JOHN J. PERSHING
Pershing is the towering American military figure of World War I. Indeed, for most Americans of recent generations, it is perhaps only his name that is recalled from among the tens of thousands who served in that conflict. Some fewer number may remember the feats of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker or Sergeant Alvin York, but those names are associated with individual achievements (Rickenbacker’s 26 kills, making him the leading American air ace) or acts of heroism (York’s Medal of Honor, awarded for single-handedly killing 28 Germans and capturing 132 others). Pershing, almost alone, is recollected for military leadership at the highest level.
Pershing’s career was long and varied: he fought Indians on the Great Plains in the closing era of Plains warfare, took American troops into Mexico on the “Punitive Expedition,” and in Europe led the largest American Army yet assembled. Before fate took him to France and military immortality, he played an important, but little known, role in helping quell the Philippine Insurrection.