100 years ago:
Ohio Soldiers return from World War I
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard Historian
With the war over and occupation duty complete, Ohio National Guard units that had been in federal service since the summer of 1917 began returning home to family and friends across the Buckeye State. The first unit to arrive was the 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry, which landed in New York on Feb. 9, 1919. Units of the 37th “Buckeye” Division left France at various intervals during March 11-20, 1919, and arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey; Newport News, Virginia; and New York. The last Ohio unit to return was the 166th Infantry which left France on April 17 and arrived in New York eight days later with Ohio Gov. James M. Cox waiting on the dock to greet the Soldiers.
The units spent a number of days in camp taking care of administrative and logistics tasks necessary for mustering out. Across Ohio, cities then held welcome home parades in Toledo, Cleveland, Zanesville, Youngstown, Cincinnati, Marietta and Columbus, as the Buckeyes snaked their way to Camp Sherman in Chillicothe for final mustering out. There, the men turned in their equipment, completed final physical examinations, received their final pay with a $60 bonus, said goodbye to their fellow Soldiers and returned home civilians once more.
As the final men of the 166th Infantry marched past their commander, Col. Benson Hough, one last time, he was recorded as whispering, “The greatest fighting unit in the world is now but a memory.”