Hometown Boys from Arkansas: Information and Statistics about WWI Service Members
Arkansas provided almost 72,000 soldiers during World War I, of whom over 18,000 were African Americans. The 39th Division (National Guard) drew units and fillers from Arkansas. Draftees from Arkansas provided much of the original manpower of the 87th Division. Of Arkansans who served, 2,183 died and 1,751 were injured. Arkansans served at sea and in the air as well. Captain Field Eugene Kindley, for example, became one of America’s top ranked fighter aces and rose to the command of the 148th Pursuit Squadron.
Arkansas hosted Camp Pike, an important Army training installation, and Ebert Army Airfield, where aviators were trained. Arkansas’ hardwoods, lead, zinc and agricultural produce figured prominently in the nation’s war mobilization effort. Cotton, used to produce both clothing and bandages, proved particularly important. Arkansans consciously mustered support for the war effort, participated in bond drives, and contributed to the newly arrived American Red Cross. The world-wide influenza epidemic hit Camp Pike particularly hard, forcing its quarantine. About 7,000 Arkansans died of influenza in 1918, several times their losses to combat.
Editor's Note: This ongoing series will feature information and statistics about World War I service members from every state. You can also find this information in our new Chateau-Thierry Visitor Center that will be opening later this year.