(By Candice Buchanan)
Before July 29th was a day of celebration, there was a day of honor and sacrifice; before a solemn plaque of names was placed on the armory wall, there was a youthful band of soldiers marching through those armory doors. The “Rain Day Boys” as they are affectionately known today compose 17 of the 53 Greene County lives lost in World War I. The connection of this particular group of soldiers to the date of our local holiday, they having made the ultimate sacrifice on July 29, 1918, provides an easy reason for us to remember them. And by recognizing these few on this day, we will hopefully be reminded of all the men and women who fought for us then and who fight for us today.
In honor of July 29th and the anniversary of their last battle, the Rain Day Boys are remembered here. Click each name to view the more complete stories that are with them at their grave sites on Memory Medallions. Click through the Memory Medallion tabs to see photos, videos, and web links related to each soldier’s life. If you can help us to further these stories with additional photos or details, I’d love to hear from you.
Bert Buchanan – Born 2 May 1892, the fifth of ten children born to Charles and Catherine (Reese) Buchanan. Prior to enlistment he was employed by Charles Thompson. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, from which funeral services were held 8 August 1921.
Harold T. Carey – Born in 1896, a son of Thomas and Belle (Smith) Carey. Harold was a 1917 graduate of Waynesburg High School. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the Presbyterian Church.
Hallie J. Closser – Born 14 February 1885, a son of James Wesley and Elazan (Garner) Closser. He became a successful farmer. Prior to WWI Hallie enlisted to fight for his country during the trouble with Mexico and served with Company K on the border in 1916. His funeral services were held 24 July 1921 from the First Baptist Church.
Harry Dunn – Born 15 January 1895, a son of Washington & Martha (Helt) Dunn. He was a member of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Ruff Creek, from which funeral and burial services were held 25 July 1921.
John G. Duvall – Born 8 January 1897, a son of Cassandra Alice (Duvall) McNurlin. He was a student at Waynesburg High School and would have graduated in the class of 1918 if he had not joined the military. He survived July 29th, but died as a result of the wounds he received that day on 20 August 1918.
Floyd T. Hickman – Born 13 February 1896, the eldest of seven children born to Lindsey McClelland & Cora Lee (Fordyce) Hickman. Floyd graduated from Center Township High School in 1915, and from Waynesburg High School in 1916. He also attended Waynesburg College for one year before enlisting. His Memory Medallion includes the full text of his last letter home written 13 July 1918 from “somewhere in France.” Floyd’s parents waited so long for word of the return of their son home for burial that they became convinced he was missing. On 11 November 1921, when an unknown American soldier, killed in France, was buried at Arlington Cemetery, Lindsey and Cora traveled to attend the ceremony. They were convinced that this soldier was their son. However, a short time later Floyd’s grave in Europe was located and he was sent home to his family and buried at the family plot in Green Mount Cemetery.
Benjamin A. Manning – Born 22 July 1893, a son of John and Emma (Bare) Manning. He was an expert mechanic and for several years was employed by the Acklin Lumber Company of Waynesburg. He enlisted in Company K, 110th Infantry, when the trouble arose between the United States and Mexico in 1916 and he served on the border with the company, then a unit of the old "Fighting Tenth" Pennsylvania Regiment. He was the company mechanic and artificer while on the border, and continued to serve in this capacity during WWI.
Fred W. Marshall – Born 24 February 1897, a son of George W. & Mary Margaret (Bush) Marshall of Time. Fred was buried on 31 July 1921 following funeral services at the Union Valley Church. Fred's older brother, George Jr., was also killed in action in France on 17 August 1918. The brothers were their parents’ only sons. A special memorial to the brothers is located at the family gravesite in West Finley Cemetery. On the day the memorial was dedicated over 2,000 people attended the ceremony to remember the boys and others like them who had fallen in service to their country.
George T. McNeely – Born August 1899, a son of Simon Coen and Martha (Clark) McNeely, of Harveys. He was shot in the leg during the battle of July 29th, but refused to seek aid and stayed on the front line. He was never recovered. His name appears among the missing on a memorial wall in Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau, France.
Francis B. Moore – Born 25 March 1893, a son of William Arthur & Elizabeth (Guthrie) Moore. Francis was first hit in the leg by a machine gun bullet, but refused to go to the rear and remained with the company until later he was hit again and killed. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the home of his parents.
Charles E. Murphy – Born 1897, a son of Dennis Herman and Lucy (Jones) Murphy. His funeral services were held 7 August 1921 from the Wind Ridge Presbyterian Church.
John Milton Paden – Born 1885, a son of Jesse Randolph Paden. Before entering the military John lived for several years with his aunt, Elizabeth Watters, in Waynesburg. John was fond of athletics and played on the Waynesburg College football team for several seasons.
Walter Burtrum Riggle – Born 30 October 1894, a son of Lewis & Nora Etta (Kuhn) Riggle. Walter attended the public schools of Aleppo and later attended high school in Wind Ridge, finishing his education at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While in college he took an active part in athletics and was able to travel throughout the state with the football team. When not attending school he worked at intervals for the Wyoming Oil Company.
Lawrence Leslie Staggers – Born November 1896, a son of James Ellsworth & Amanda (McVay) Staggers, of Bristoria. Lawrence had undergone an operation for appendicitis and was told by his superior officer that he would be discharged and could go home. Lawrence begged to be permitted to stay, saying that he wanted to fight to the finish. His plea was granted and he continued on with his company. His funeral services were held 27 July 1921 with burial in the Staggers Cemetery on the old family farm in Jackson Township.
William Webster Throckmorton – Born 25 August 1897, a son of Thomas Morford & Annie (Webster) Throckmorton. He was educated in Waynesburg High School and attended Waynesburg College prior to enlistment. He was a member of the football and basketball teams as a star player. Though he survived July 29th his injuries placed him into hospital care where he contracted pneumonia and died just before being sent home 18 September 1918. William's is a particularly tragic story because of the inevitable delay of communication between Europe and the United States. On 26 September, days after his death, William’s family received a happy letter saying he was coming home for them to nurse back to health. Word of his death reported 10 October was supposed by his family to be an error. Confirmation of the sad news did not come until 17 October. A letter he sent home 30 April 1918 can be seen on his Memory Medallion.
Russell Karl Yoders – Born in 1899, a son of William Henry & Clemma (Durbin) Yoders. His funeral services were held 24 July 1921 from the First Methodist Episcopal Church.
Norman M. Zahniser – Born in 1894, a son of William S. & Ada M. (Alexander) Zahniser. He was a graduate of Waynesburg High School, attended Waynesburg College and was a student at State College when he enlisted in the U. S. military. He was prominent in athletics, being a star on the college and high school football, basketball and baseball teams.