On Armed Forces Day, Bill McGee Remembers His Dad’s Service in the Great War
“Dad served in the 2nd Montana Infantry and trained at Fort Harrison, outside of Helena. Horses were needed in Europe to pull the heavy Howitzers through the mud. While the 2nd Montana was waiting for orders to go overseas, Dad – a cowboy and blacksmith with a reputation around Montana as an expert horseman – bought horses for the U.S. Army and shipped them by train from Fort Harrison to Richmond, Virginia where they were put on ships bound for Europe.
In December 1917, the 2nd Montana Infantry, re-designated as the 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Division, was sent overseas. While serving in France as a combat infantryman, Dad earned his Second Lieutenant bars.
When the war ended in November 1918, the 163rd returned home and Dad resumed proving up his claim in Montana’s fertile Shields River Valley in Park County, some of the best cattle and grazing land in the state. It wouldn’t be long before he met my mother, Vivian Lyon.”
.Excerpted from Montana Memoir: The Hardscrabble Years, 1925-1942 by William L. McGee.