When Herbert H. Parmer joined the Pennsylvania National Guard on June 23, 1916, he had no idea where he would end up as a result.
At that time, the PA National Guard was know as the 7th Division. Just a few days before, on June 18, 1916, the 7th Division was ordered to prepare to go the Mexican Border as part of the Mexican Border Campaign. It’s likely that he joined the National Guard as a result of the 7th Division’s call to serve. And it is likely he served along the Mexican Border, although additional research is needed to confirm this. The 7th Division’s participation in the Mexican Border Campaign was significant in preparing them for their future service, when less than a year after returning home, they were called up to serve in the World War.
Herbert H. Parmer served in Company K of the 4th Infantry PA National Guard until August of 1916, after which he was in the Machine Gun Battalion of the 4th Infantry PA National Guard until October of 1917. At that time, as part of the United States entry into the World War, his machine gun battalion was organized into the 109th Machine Gun Battalion of the 56th Infantry Brigade of the 28th Division, which is “the oldest continuously serving division in the United States Army” according to the PNG website.
Before heading overseas, the 109th Machine Gun Battalion trained at Camp Hancock near Augusta, GA.
The 109th Machine Gun Battalion participated in the major battles of Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, the Fismes sector, Oise-Aisne, the Argonne sector, Meuse-Argonne, and the Thiaucourt sector.
The 28th Division became quite famous. The following is from the PNG website:
After arriving in France, the 28ID gained fame as a result of its gallant stand on July 15, 1918. As the division took up defensive positions along the Marne River east of Chateau-Thierry, the Germans commenced their attack with a fierce artillery bombardment. When the German assault collided with the main force of the 28ID, the fighting became bitter hand-to-hand combat. The 28ID repelled the German forces and decisively defeated their enemy. After the battle, Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, visited the battlefield and declared that the 28ID soldiers are “Men of Iron” and named the 28ID his “Iron Division.”
The 28th Division is still known as the “Iron Division” today.
Herbert H. Parmer served overseas from May 1918 to March 1919.
You can read more about the 109th Machine Gun Battalion here.