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

Kansas provided approximately 80,000 men to the U.S. armed forces during World War I. Of these, 6,480 were lost to causalities, accidents, and disease. The 35th Division (National Guard) drew units and troops from Kansas, and many of the selected servicemen who initially made up the 89th Division were from Kansas. The 35th attacked in the first wave of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, capturing Varennes, Cheppy, and other critical terrain. The 89th  fought in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Campaigns, overcoming particularly stubborn resistance when storming the Heights of Barricourt. Kansans served in the air and at sea as well. 2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, for example, earned the Medal of Honor while delivering supplies to the “Lost Battalion” by air in the Meuse-Argonne.

Camp Funston, near Junction City, served as a major training center for Army units. Nearby Fort Riley handled important administrative and logistical responsibilities, and Fort Leavenworth was a center for officer, staff and combined arms training. Kansas’ agriculture mobilized to support the war effort, with wheat in particular as a critical commodity. Kansans readily joined or supported such organizations as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, participated in war bond drives, planted “victory gardens”, and conserved 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.