THE WAR EXPERIENCE was different for everyone. While some men were chosen to go "over the top" in France, others were selected to stay in America and work at one or more of the various training camps scattered across the country. Maurice Lynn "Mol" Cone was one of those whose military experience was all stateside.
Only seventeen years old when he enlisted, Private Cone was stationed as a radio operator with Headquarters Company of the 27th Field Artillery based at Camp McClellan, Alabama. There he was pretty much exempt from the most rigorous aspects of army life ... until one day in December 1918 - an experience which he described in a letter printed in The Sheridan Daily Enterprise in January 1919.
After his discharge in February of that year, Cone attended the University of Illinois before returning to Sheridan to work as a lawyer (he served as the Sheridan County Attorney in 1930). He died in 1942.
State Historic Site
I had a little touch of real army life today. Our regiment went out on the range about ten miles and I had to hike out with a full pack on my back and set up a station. It was the first time I ever slung or carried a pack and, believe me, the darned thing got rather heavy before I got back. I had to take three blankets, one suit of underwear, one poncho, two pairs of socks, one mess kit, provisions for one day, one canteen and a roll of toilet articles, with a First Aid kit thrown in. This I carried on my back, and in my hands I carried two big spools of wire. Then a lieutenant, thinking I did not have enough to carry and he had too much (which was about one-quarter as heavy as my equipment), handed me his portfolio full of drawing boards, blank message forms, etc., til when I got there, I was either carrying, dragging, pushing or pulling about 130 pounds.
After we had set up our station and cooked dinner, we got orders to join the major's staff about a mile and a half to the rear. Thinking we would return soon, the lieutenant told us to leave our station up. But when we got back to the staff [headquarters], the major told him to send all the radio men in except two who were to go back and tear down the station and carry it in. Well, you can guess who was one of the two, so consequently Little Mol trailed back the mile and a half and carried in the set, and got back to camp just in time to be called out and made to play football for an hour. So perhaps you will believe me when I say I am tired tonight.
(From "In the World War")