American Expeditionary Forces (AEF)
The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) was the name assigned to the combined United States Armed Forces sent to Europe during World War I. After the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing was named supreme commander of the AEF, a post which he retained through the end of the war. The first American troops arrived in Europe in June 1917, though they did not fully participate at the front until October. During the war, the AEF successfully fought alongside French, British, and Italian forces against the German and Austro-Hungarian armies. All combat ended with the Armistice on 11 November 1918, and General Pershing established the Third Army for the subsequent Occupation of the Rhineland.
3rd Infantry Division
The 3rd Infantry Division fought in France during WWI. Established at Camp Greene, N.C., in November 1917, the division first saw combat in July 1918. After steadfastly holding back the Germans amid retreating French troops at the Second Battle of the Marne, the division earned the nickname “Rock of the Marne.”
John Joseph Pershing graduated from West Point in 1886, and then reported for active duty on 30 September 1886, beginning a long and distinguished military career. As part of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, Pershing took part in several campaigns of the American Indian Wars; held postings in California, Arizona, and North Dakota; and participated in suppressing the last uprisings of the Lakota (Sioux) Native Americans. From 1891 until 1895, he was Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While there, in 1892, he was promoted to first lieutenant. In 1895, Pershing took command of a troop of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which was composed of African-American soldiers under white officers. He then was appointed to the West Point tactical staff as an instructor in 1897. While serving as an instructor, he was given the nickname “Black Jack” by the cadets who disliked him and intended to insult him for his time spent in charge of the African-American soldiers. During the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, Pershing served with distinction over various volunteer units and cavalry regiments. This service earned him the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1905 nominated Pershing as brigadier general, which was approved by Congress, skipping three ranks. At the start of the United States’ involvement in WWI, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Pershing as the Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to be sent to Europe, and he was promoted to full general in the National Army. Now responsible for organizing, training, and supplying an army of combined professional and draft forces, Pershing exercised near complete control over his command, and took care not to get involved in issues that might distract from his command.
General Robert L. Howze
Robert Lee Howze graduated from Hubbard College in 1883 before attending West Point and graduating in 1888. He subsequently served in the American Indian Wars, during which he earned the Medal of Honor, and then the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. From 1905 until 1909, Howze served as the Commandant of Cadets at West Point. During WWI, Howze was promoted to Major General and commanded the 38th Infantry Division and then the 3rd Division. Finally in 1919, he was assigned command of the Third Army of Occupation of the Rhineland.