Hometown Boys from Iowa: Information and Statistics about WWI Service Members

Iowa provided almost 115,000 servicemen to the U.S. armed forces during World War I. Of these, 3,576 died. The 168th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd (“Rainbow”) Division was an Iowa unit. The 34th Division (National Guard) drew units and troops from Iowa. The 88th Division drew many of its initial selected servicemen from Iowa, and fought in the Haute-Alsace. The 168th Infantry Regiment distinguished itself in the fiercely fought Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Campaigns. Capt. Hanford W. MacNider, highly decorated for his service in the 2nd Division, went on to command a regiment in World War II and serve as national commander of the American Legion and Assistant Secretary of War.

Camp Dodge, a few miles northwest of Des Moines, became a major training installation. Fort Des Moines became the first camp in the United States to train African-American officers, at a time when the U.S. Army was segregated. Iowa’s agriculture mobilized to support the war effort. Corn, cattle and hogs were in particular demand. Iowans flocked to join or support such organizations as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, participate in war bond drives, plant “victory gardens”, and conserve food and other critical commodities.

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.