State puts World War I personnel database online

Sunday, June 2, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- While many Missourians may be familiar with the World War I service records of Harry S. Truman and John J. Pershing, few may know the details of the thousands of others who served during the Great War.

In an effort to change that, Missouri has completed work on an online database containing the records of the 145,000 soldiers and Marines who enlisted in the state to serve in the war.

The World War I Service Record Database, believed by state officials to be the only one of its kind nationwide, was unveiled last week by Secretary of State Matt Blunt.

In the works since 1986, the Missouri State Archives cataloged index cards for those soldiers and Marines, including Truman and Pershing.

Truman reached the rank of captain with the 35th Division, while Pershing was commander of the American Expeditionary Force.

The database, available on the Internet, is accessible by typing in identifying information such as last name or address. Details in the records include length of services, location of service and rank. The cards also contain information about injuries and deaths.

"Each of us owes a tremendous debt to the men and women who served our nation in wartime," Blunt said. "The World War I Service Record Database pays tribute to their courage and sacrifice in defending America's freedoms."

George Ernest Shirley of Fulton was believed to be the last living Missouri World War I veteran, according to the Missouri Veterans Commission. Shirley, a Marine, died on April 10 at the age of 103 and was buried in Higginsville. His record is listed in the database.

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