The buck stops here
With the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I looming, it is only fitting that we take a look at the gun carried by the only President to see combat in the conflict.
While the former Spanish-American War veteran President Teddy Roosevelt (R/ Bull Moose) volunteered to return to service to fight the Kaiser in 1917, his offer was not accepted by President Woodrow Wilson (D). Further, although a career Army officer at the time, future President Dwight D. Eisenhower was stuck in training duties stateside and never made it to the frontline in France. One man who did go “Over There” was Missouri-native Harry S Truman, whose past jobs had included farmer and clerk.
Having served as a company clerk in a National Guard artillery unit for a few years before the war, Truman, then 33, reenlisted and was elected lieutenant. By 1918, he was in France with Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force as a captain in command of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 35th ID– in essence 200 Doughboys, four French 75mm guns and 160 horses to pull them and their shells.
Post-Armistice, he brought his men home, B/129 losing none to combat, and opened a haberdashery in Kansas City, later getting into politics.
Since he elected to remain in the service, transferring to the Army Reserve (which he remained a member of until 1953) he kept the M1911 Colt .45ACP, serial No. 227577, issued to him in 1918 but did eventually turn it over to the federal government– to the Truman Presidental Library and Museum in 1957, where it, and his Great War uniform, are on display to the public.