Courtesy Fey / Hesser Family Collection
When the U.S. entered the World War, 26-year-old Samuel Parker (right), a native of Monroe, North Carolina, left
his classes at UNC one month before graduation to volunteer for officer training. He led a platoon in the first wave of the battle, earning a distinguished service cross for bravery. In subsequent action, he would earn the Medal of Honor, 2 Silver Stars, and 2 Purple Hearts, becoming the single most decorated soldier of World War 1.
Carl Fey (right) left his job as a foundry iron worker at just 17 and volunteered for service, crossing the Atlantic with the first AEF shipment in June 1917. In the first wave of the attack, a German bullet shot through his mouth and exited his lower jaw. He lay wounded for hours in no-man's-land until captured by the Germans. He spent the next six months until the Armistice as a prisoner of war and finally returned to his Pennsylvania home in 1919 where he worked as a brakeman on the Reading Railroad until his death in 1951.
19-year-old Paul Eskew (left) of Franklin, Kentucky, said farewell to his young wife, Zida, and 1 year-old son, Paul, Jr., to enlist when America entered the war. He attacked in the second wave in the draw on the south side of the village and was killed by machine gun fire as he and his squad were digging into the chalky hardpan of no-man's-land for cover. Of over 300 men killed in the battle, Eskew was one of only four who left children behind.
The morning before the battle, 20-year-old "Dickie" Conover (left) was in charge of a machine gun team when the front lines were raided by German shock troops. When he saw the Germans invade the American trenches to his left and start to return with two of his comrades as prisoners, he grabbed his rifle, climbed out of the trench and kneeled in no-man's-land methodically picking off the German captors one by one. An enemy machine gunner spotted him and he was killed, falling back into the trench and telling his crew, "I'm through. Take my rifle." But his efforts were not in vain: the two Americans made it back alive.