Marine Corps League - Metro Area - Kansas City, Missouri


Commandant's Corner

TOM GOOD, Commandant, 816-519-7597

Tom Good 
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  Those who wish to pay tribute to the great courage and valor of our very own Missouri Korean War Veterans, click on the image below to connect with the Missouri Korean War Veterans Memorial that will soon be constructed on land graciously donated by the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department.

                In honor of Private J.Y. Simpson, Jr. and Private Harry Hoggatt

KIA  6/6/1918  Belleau Woods





   KIA10/5/1918  Mont Blanc 


Click Simpson image to view burial site.  Click center image to view Simpson-Hoggatt Memorials in Kansas City, MO.  Click Hoggatt image to view burial site.  After you reach the site you can click on individual pictures for full screen close-up image enhancement.         

James Young Simpson, Jr. was born March 28, 1896 in Kansas City, Kansas.   The family lived at numerous addresses just southwest of downtown Kansas City until 1908, when they moved permanently to a house at 3633 Charlotte St. in Hyde Park.    

James was a 1915 graduate of Westport High School, where he played basketball and ran track.                   

In the fall of 1915, James entered the University of Missouri.  He was a student in the School of Engineering.  During his freshman year he was a pledge in Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and he was a promising pitcher and first baseman on the freshman baseball team.  James was enrolled in the fall semester of the 1916-1917 school year and finished the term, but did not return for the spring semester because war was on the horizon.  

Before his enlistment, James had also worked in the credit department of the Kansas City Star.

The United States declared war on Imperial Germany on April 6, 1917  and James volunteered for the Marines.  On April 26, 1917, James was accepted for enlistment at the Kansas City, Missouri Receiving Station and shipped by train to the Marine Barracks at Port Royal, South Carolina where he arrived on April 30, 1917. 

The first step for enlistees was to be put into quarantine upon arriving in South Carolina.  James got out of quarantine on May 7, 1917 and officially signed his enlistment papers on that day.  James was issued Marine Corps Service Number 85770.   

James was in boot camp from May 7, 1917 through July 22, 1917, training in Company B at Marine Barracks, Port Royal, South Carolina.  As was the case during his entire career, he was rated Very Good to Excellent in the categories of Military Efficiency, Obedience, and Sobriety; he had no offenses on his personal record, and he was rated as having excellent character. 

After completing boot camp, James was first assigned to 76th Company,       1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment at Quantico, Virginia on July 23, 1917.     Because he had volunteered for machine guns,  James was sent to

Utica, New York on September 1, 1917 and attached to Detachment D, which was being trained at the Savage Arms Company on the Lewis machine gun.  While still in training at Utica, he was transferred on September 11, 1917 to 82nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.         

After completing his training on the Lewis machine gun at Utica, James          was then sent back to Quantico on September 22, 1917, where he joined up with the 82nd Company.                 

James and the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment embarked on the U.S.S. Von Steuben at League Island Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 7:00 p.m. on October 24, 1917.  The U.S.S. Von Steuben          arrived at Brest, France on November 12, 1917. 

The 5th and 6th Marines regiments and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion    made up the 4th Marine Brigade, which was newly formed in late 1917.

The 4th Marine Brigade was made part of the fledgling 2nd U. S. Army Infantry Division.  The Marines were forced to be part of an Army division since John J. Pershing refused to allow enough Marines in Europe for a division of their own.   Upon the Marines being incorporated into an Army division, James Simpson was also issued Army Service Number 122,003.  

By March 1918 it was felt that American troops were ready for some   practical experience at various fronts throughout France.  Realizing that he would be headed into action, James wrote his father a letter in observance of his father’s birthday in March.  James wrote:

My Dear Father:

I just wanted to write you a letter on your birthday.  I don’t know  when I will be able to mail it, but will take a chance anyway.  I want to thank you as your son.  You have always been to me the best father a  man could wish.  I want to thank you for the gift of a clean, strong and  vigorous body that can serve America in her need.  Most of all I want to thank you for the long years of self denial that made my education possible, for the guidance and teaching that kept me straight through the days of my youth, for the counsel ever freely given when asked and    for all the noble things in your example. 

I surely hope that you will celebrate many more birthdays and that I will be home for the next one.  Also may the coming years bring to you wider fields of service and honor, strength to perform your work, and in the end peace, contentment, and quiet rest.

Your son, a soldier of the United States, salutes you, with love and devotion.


The 2nd Division was engaged in the Aisne Defensive in the Chateau-Thierry sector, from May 31 through June 5, 1918.  The German offensive was beginning to slow down when the 2nd Division was ordered          forward from Chaumont-en-Vixen.  In the course of the first twelve hours of their movement, the 2nd Division received four sets of conflicting orders from the French as to where they were to fight.  The 2nd Division command finally convinced the French to countermand the last order that would have moved the 2nd away from the fighting, and the 2nd Division took up positions near Belleau Wood.  At this time, 3/6 ended up in a position between Hill 142 and Lucy-le-Bocage.  

Orders were received at 14:05 on June 6 to begin an attack at 17:00.

The objectives given the 3/6 in the first phase of this attack were to move down the Lucy-Bouresches Road and into Belleau Woods, where the 3/6  was to take Hill 181, as well as taking Hill 138 west of Bouresches.

In the second phase of the attack, the 3/6 was to join with the 3/5 in     taking Bouresches and the railroad station north and east of that town.  

The plans for this attack proved to be poorly conceived and overly      optimistic.  The French contention that the woods were not occupied was never confirmed beforehand by any attempt at reconnaissance.    

The 3/6 advanced along the Lucy-Bouresches Road under heavy German fire until about 18:30, with Simpson’s 82nd Company in the lead.  At this time, James and seven other Marines volunteered to attack German two machines that were inflicting serious casualties on the 3/6.  Both machines guns were taken and held even though James and another Marine were killed by enemy rifle fire and the rest were all seriously wounded.  

These events were described to Simpson’s father in the letters of two Marines from the 82nd Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.  An extract from the letter of Lieutenant C. D. Roberts stated:

“He was a mighty fine soldier and one of the bravest lads that took part in our fight in Belleau Woods.  He was leading four of his comrades  against a deadly machine gun position when he was killed.  Another of his comrades was killed at the same time and all the rest wounded.  It was one of the most heroic acts I have heard of in that encounter.  This           occurred about 6:30 PM June 6,1918.”         

Sergeant K. P. Spencer wrote two letters to Dr. Simpson.  An extract of his first letter stated:

“The particulars of James’ death are as follows: on June 6th, orders came for this battalion to take machine gun hill which was being held by the Germans.  At 5:00 PM, the battalion formed in wave formation at the foot of the hill and soon the advance began.  The machine gun fire of the    enemy was terrific and very few of our men reached the top of the hill that day.  A particularly strong machine gun nest was located on the right    flank and it was at this point that your son displayed great courage and coolness.  With a French Chauchat automatic rifle in his hands and four of his men following him, he charged this position and it was here that he fell – of the five who went after that gun not one returned.  Truly, sir, you have reason to be proud of a son who went forward in the face of death and died in attempt to save his comrades.”           

Sergeant Spencer wrote in his second letter:

“Your son has been cited for conspicuous bravery and courage displayed in the attack at Belleau Woods where he fell on June 6th, and in appreciation and recognition of such has been awarded the Croix de Guerre.   Sir, you have lost your son, but the memory that he died fighting and a hero should be a source of comfort to you and his mother.”  

The 3/6 moved forward until 20:30, when the attack finally stalled due to the high number of casualties that had been inflicted by the Germans          defending Belleau Wood.  The 3/6 ended up at the southeast edge of Belleau Wood.  James was one of 222 Marines killed that day.  The Marines suffered more casualties on June 6, 1918, than the total of all previous casualties of the Marine Corps in its entire history.  

For his actions, James was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.   The Gold Star was the fourth highest of the five grades of the Croix de   Guerre and meant his citation had been issued at the Army Corps level.

The citation for his Croix de Guerre read:

“Displayed bravery and coolness in attacking (with seven others) a strongly fortified machine gun nest, which they captured and held.”

The men and action in which James was killed was also mentioned in the 2nd Division’s General Order No. 40.  

James Young Simpson, Jr. was included under killed in action in Casualty Cablegram No. 169 dated June 23, 1918. He was initially interred on June 24, 1918 in Lucy-le-Bocage, Aisne, France, on Hill 181 in grave number 9.  

A letter dated December 11, 1919, from the War Department  and asked that the family express their wishes for the disposition of the remains of James Simpson.  The family ultimately decided to allow James to remain in France.  James Simpson was reinterred on October 11, 1922, in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France, Block A, Row 6, Grave 33. 

The Simpson family was notified that James was entitled to the Victory Medal with ribbon, one Aisne Defense Battle Clasp, one Defensive Sector Clasp, the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star, a Silver Star, and two Bronze Stars. 


          James Simpson was one of 117 former MU students and graduates who        died during the war.  They were honored by the University of Missouri     for their sacrifice by the dedication of the Memorial Union and Memorial   Stadium in 1926.  The names of these veterans were inscribed in the           archways of the Memorial Union Tower.         




Harry Hoggatt was born February 10, 1901 in St. Joseph, Missouri.        

Before his enlistment Harry worked as a clerk at S.R. Garvin Realty Company, where his father was the office manager. 

On May 22, 1918, Harry was accepted for enlistment at the Kansas City, Missouri Receiving Station and shipped by train to the Marine Barracks at Paris Island, South Carolina where he arrived on May 27, 1918.

Harry had to get two waivers from the Marine Corps to be able to enlist; the first was for only being seventeen years old and the second was for being underweight.  

The first step for enlistees was to be put into quarantine upon arriving in South Carolina.   Harry got out of quarantine on June 3, 1918 and officially signed his enlistment papers on that day, obligating him to service for the duration of the war.  Harry was issued Marine Corps Service Number 120042.   

Harry was in boot camp from June 3, 1918 through July 24, 1918,        training in Company K at Marine Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina.    As was the case during his entire career, he was rated Very Good to Excellent in the categories of Military Efficiency, Obedience, and Sobriety; he had no offenses on his personal record, and he was rated as having excellent character.   

After completing boot camp, Harry was first assigned to Company B, 5th Separate Battalion at the OS Depot at Quantico, Virginia on July 24, 1918.  This battalion was one of several replacement battalions formed during the war to provide additional training and organization to units going overseas.    

Harry embarked on the U.S.S. Von Steuben at Pier # 8, Hoboken, New Jersey, at 2:15 p.m. on August 18, 1918.  The U.S.S. Von Steuben arrived at Brest, France on August 27, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.        

The 5th and 6th Marines regiments and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion made up the 4th Marine Brigade, which was newly formed in late 1917.

The 4th Marine Brigade was made part of the fledgling 2nd U. S. Army Infantry Division.  The Marines were forced to be part of an Army division since John J. Pershing refused to allow enough Marines in Europe for a division of their own.   Because the Marines had been       incorporated into an Army division, Harry Hoggatt was also issued Army Service Number 4,606,267.  

Harry received more training in France until he was finally transferred as a replacement to the 79th Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment on September 11, 1918. 

The day after Harry was assigned to the 2/6, September 12, 1918, the St. Mihiel Offensive began.  On September 15, 1918, 2/6 was the leading element of the 6th Marines as the attack continued.  At the end of the day, after vicious fighting, the Mihiel Salient had been effectively reduced, and the 4th Marine Brigade was relieved.  During the fighting of September 15, 1918, Harry Hoggatt was injured by enemy artillery fire.  

The Marines then spent the next two weeks refitting and moving into position to take part in the offensive in the Champagne region of France.

On the night of October 1st and 2nd , 1918, the 2nd Division moved into the line in preparation for taking part in the offensive near Mont Blanc. On October 2nd, the 2nd Division was next engaged in clearing out trenches to their front in preparation for the main assault the next day. The French on either flank were not successful in clearing the trenches in their sector though.  This led to serious problems the next day when the main offensive began.  On October 3rd, the 79th and 80th companies of 2/6 led the 4th Marine Brigade attack, which had problems all day because of an exposed left flank.  Significant gains were made but could not be fully exploited by the 4th Brigade.  The 5th Marines were unable to make a planned attack late that afternoon as result of their spending the day having to protecting the 6th Marines left because no French who should have been there were to be found. 

On October 4th, the 6th Marines, with 2/6 still in the lead, made several attempts to drive the Germans off Mont Blanc Ridge, but these were unsuccessful partly because the 4th Brigade’s left flank was still exposed. Meanwhile, the 5th Marines made an assault toward the town of St. Etienne.  This assault had very high casualties and also did not meet its objective because of weak support from the 3rd Brigade on the right flank; the 5th Marines were pulled out of the fight late that night.    

The 6th Marines again were leading the assault on Mont Blanc Ridge on October 5, 1918, when Harry Hoggatt was killed in action by enemy rifle fire.  The events were described to Mr. Hoggatt in a letter from his son Ralph who had been taking part in the battle as a corpsman assigned to the 5th Marines:

“This was the hottest fight we have seen.  At one time we were surrounded on three sides.  We were in the open and the enemy in the woods.  We got machine gun bullets and high explosives.  All one could do was to walk in the open and hope for the best.  We lost many mighty fine boys, including brother.”            

Harry Hoggatt was four months and five days shy of his eighteenth birthday when he was killed in action.  Harry Hoggatt was included under killed in action in Casualty Cablegram No. 294/3 dated October 26, 1918.  He was initially interred in a grave on the crest of Mont Blanc. 

The Hoggatt family was not notified until later but Harry was disinterred and reburied on June 5, 1919 in Grave 105, Section 50, Plot 3,

Argonne-American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse, France.  In a letter dated May 17, 1920, the Hoggatt family was informed that removal of American dead from this sector for shipment home would commence after the fifteenth of September that year.  Up until that time they had expressed a desire that Harry be buried at Arlington. 

The Hoggatt family responded to the May 17, 1920 letter with a desire that Harry’s remains be returned to Kansas City.  Harry was disinterred on June 13, 1921, and his remains arrived at Hoboken, New Jersey on August 1, 1921.  His remains were transported to Kansas City where he was interred on August 13, 1921.  Harry Hoggatt is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Block 3, Lot 20, Space 5.  The Marine officer in charge of the detail assigned to Harry’s internment reported that the funeral services were held at 2:30 p.m. at the Carroll & Mast Chapel, the burial was held at 3:30 p.m., and that approximately 2,500 people attended.       

The Hoggatt family was informed in December, 1920, that Harry was entitled to the Victory Medal with ribbon, one St. Mihiel Battle Clasp, one Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasp, and two Bronze Stars.   

On May 24, 1918, while taking his physical at the Kansas City Marine Corps Recruiting station, Harry met sixteen year old Thomas W. Lacy.

They were shipped Paris Island on the same train, went through boot camp in the same company, were sent to Quantico together where they received the final training for Marines before going overseas, and sailed to France together on the Von Steuben.  At this time they both had secured a copy of “The Stars and Stripes” and each copied the same poem from it and gave it to the other saying “If you get home and I do not, deliver this poem to my mother.  They were then separated and never saw each other again. 

Lacy was sent to the 47th Company, 5th Marines, while Hoggatt was sent to the 79th Company, 6th Marines.  Both were wounded in the St. Mihiel offensive, and Lacy was wounded again in the offensive where Hoggatt was killed in action.  On April 23, 1919, just eleven months after they had first met in Kansas City, Lacy delivered the following poem to the mother of Harry Hoggatt:           

                    WHAT MATTERS 

       How happy I shall be, O mother mine,

       If only, after our hard fight is won,

       My part, tho small, shall license you to speak,

       With pride of him who is your son!

       It matters not if I’m not at your side,

       To comfort you, and ease your ripening years,

       For tho you grieve the loss of him you loved,

       Pride then will quickly vanquish Sorrow’s tears. 

        It matters only if midst shrapnel’s scream,

        And bullets, gas, and ravages of Hun,

        That I, whom you have reared with tender love,

        Shall live or die as you would have your son. 

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