In these two military operations, Allied forces recovered more than two hundred square miles of French territory from the German army.By the time Germany signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces had evolved into a modern, combat-tested army recognized as one of the best in the world.Pershing and his staff soon realized how ill-prepared the United States was to transport large numbers of soldiers and necessary equipment to the front, where supplies, rations, equipment, and trained soldiers were all in short supply.
He kept it on a shelf in our family den, where for years when I was a kid it roared down at us—unappeasably furious (or so I always thought) at being trapped up there on its high perch, with no company except some painted beer mugs and a set of purple glass swizzle sticks. Probably my brother and I were having a skirmish and a shot went wild.
I thought my father would be furious, but he didn't say a word.
He'd bought it in Korea, where he'd been a bomber pilot during the Korean war; his squadron had been called the Flying Tigers.
My wife hadn't known that; I barely remembered it myself. He'd accumulated fistfuls of medals over there, and he kept them stashed in an anonymous little plush case at the back of his closet, where they went unseen for decades.
That was all part of the past, and he had no use for the past.
He used to wave off any question I asked about the world before I was born, irritatedly dismissing it as if all of that were self-evidently too shabby and quaint to interest a modern kid like me.By July 1918, French forces often were assigned to support AEF operations. Mihiel, beginning September 12, 1918, Pershing commanded the American First Army, comprising seven divisions and more than 500,000 men, in the largest offensive operation ever undertaken by United States armed forces.This successful offensive was followed by the Battle of Argonne, lasting from September 27 to October 6, 1918, during which Pershing commanded more than one million American and French soldiers.The United States had sustained more than 320,000 casualties in the First World War, including over 53,000 killed in action, over 63,000 non-combat related deaths, mainly due to the influenza pandemic of 1918, and 204,000 wounded.In less than two years the United States had established new motorized and combat forces, equipped them with all types of ordnance including machine guns and tanks, and created an entirely new support organization capable of moving supplies thousands of miles in a timely manner.The mobilization effort taxed the limits of the American military and required new organizational strategies and command structures to transport great numbers of troops and supplies quickly and efficiently.Although the first American troops arrived in Europe in June 1917, the AEF did not fully participate at the front until October, when the First Division, one of the best-trained divisions of the AEF, entered the trenches at Nancy, France.The tiger seems to fit right in, but I sometimes suspect it feels shanghaied.My father hadn't got it because he was fond of tigers or because he had any interest in nature.Pershing wanted an American force that could operate independently of the other Allies, but his vision could not be realized until adequately trained troops with sufficient supplies reached Europe.Training schools in America sent their best men to the front, and Pershing also established facilities in France to train new arrivals for combat.