Military History/World War I


My great grandfather served in WWI.
He was with the 31st Infantry, a private in Comp. K
He enlisted Dec. 7, 1917, and was honorably discharged July 23, 1920.
I have found information about the 'Polar Bears' but am not sure if he was one of them.
He unfortunately died at age 48 by drinking wood alcohol. He lived on trains and was considered a hobo after the war.  Before the war he held jobs and was a hard worker.
I would like to know what his Division did during that time, perhaps that is why he had the drinking problem.
 He was buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in 1931.
Thank you for your time and any help you can give me.

You should be able to get a copy of your grandfather's military records from the National Archives' Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

Here's the link, which contains info on how to get records of a deceased veteran if you are next of kin:

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Marc Leepson


I can answer most questions dealing with all aspects of U.S. military history. My expertise is the Vietnam War. I also have written extensively about the U.S. Civil War, World War II, World War I, The Philippine War, and the American Revolution. My books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, the history of the American Flag, and the post-Jefferson history of Monticello, and therefore know a great deal about those specific subjects. I specialize in writing about matters of strategy--not tactics. And I also am interested in personalities. I have very little knowledge about ordnance or the value of old military memorabilia. Nor do I know a lot about uniforms and insignia--except about the Vietnam War. To repeat: I have no expertise in assessing the value of ordnance or uniforms or any type of military equipment. And my knowledge about military uniforms is only limited to those of the Vietnam War era. If you have questions on these topics, I recommend contacting an antiques dealer in your area who specializes in military uniforms, ordnance, etc.


Author and journalist with more than 35 years' experience.

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New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribute, New York Newsday, the Arizona Republic, St. Petersburg Times, Detroit News. Magazines: Smithsonian, Preservation, The VVA Veteran, Vietnam, Civil War Times, America's Civil War, Military History, World War II. Editor: The Webster's New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War

BA, 1967, George Washington University, History MA, 1971, George Washington University, European History

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Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award, 2011

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