Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Roads Classic: Twenty Surprising Doughboys

This is a non-comprehensive list of individuals who served in the AEF and went on to prominence in other fields of after the war. We've left out the generals, battlefield heroes, and most political types. Separate lists are being assembled for the Navy and volunteer groups. If you happen to have photos of any of these individuals please send them along.  (email) We will be featuring them on the Doughboy Center website in the future.

Grover Cleveland Alexander 
322nd Field Artillery
Baseball Hall of Fame

Hervey Allen 
28th Division
Author: Toward the FlameAnthony Adverse

Edwin Armstrong 
Signal Corps
Father of FM Radio

Steven Bechtel 
20th Engineering Battalion
Mega Construction Comp. Leader

Walter Brennan
101st Field Artillery; 26th Div.
Multiple Academy Award-Winning Actor

James M. Cain 
HQ Company, 79th Div.
Author: The Taking of MontfauconPostman Always Rings Twice

Meriam Cooper 
Air Service
Produced Movie King Kong

Dr. Harvey Cushing, Jr.
Medical Corps, 5th Base Hospital
Neurosurgeon, Biographer of Osler

Everett Dirksen 
69th Balloon Observer Company
U.S. Senate Minority Leader

Conrad Hilton 
304th Labor Btln, 79th Div.

Jay C. Hormel 
Ice Plant Company 301
Company Produced Spam

Edwin Hubble 
343rd Infantry, 86th Division

Buster Keaton 
159th Infantry, 40th Div.
Entertainment Great

Fibber McGee
(James Jordan)
122nd Engineers
Radio Entertainer

Horace Pippin 
369th Infantry Regiment
Artist: John Brown

Harold Ross 
RR Engineers, Stars and Stripes Editor
Founder, New Yorker magazine

Edward Steichen 
Photographic Section
U.S. Air Service
Photo Artist

Henry Stimson 
31st and 305th Fld. Art.
Secretary of State & War

Gene Tunney 
USMC, Svcs of Supply
Heavyweight Boxing Champion

DeWitt Wallace
139th Infantry, 35th Div.
Founder of Reader's Digest


  1. How about Harry Truman? David McCullough's biography has some interesting insights into Truman's service as I remember. It is noteworthy.

    1. Note the absence of such figures as George Marshall and George Patton. These are "surprising" doughboys.

  2. What an amazing collection, Mike! I am sure most people who recognize these names never associated them with WW1 service.

  3. Great post, I like this sort of information!

  4. Henry Beston (volunteer poilu, ambulance driver, later US Navy Press representative), author of The Outermost House (literally a hippie-era poster boy, because a quote from The Outermost House was a widely-seen poster then). Alan Kaplan