June 13, 1919 and 2019 – Welcome home, Sergeant Shetler


1919.06.13 OL

One hundred years ago today, June 13, 1919, at 12:20 pm,  Sergeant First Class Jay Shetler and the 301st Engineers steamed into Boston Harbor on the USS Calamares.  The ship tied up at Commonwealth Pier.  The tired doughboys were met by crowds, bands, newspaper reporters and given a true hero’s welcome.

Today I’m here at that same pier in Boston Harbor “welcoming” Jay home just as I said “good-bye” 100 years after he and the Katoomba left Brooklyn last July. And when I “greeted” him this past September 12, the day he arrived at the front in the destroyed town of Flirey.  That day I walked in his footsteps to the exact location of his kitchen.  Then there was the day I “wished him good luck”, one hundred years after he entered a hospital, now an apartment building, in Koblenz.  It only seemed right that I’d be here to welcome him today.

Trains were waiting at the pier to take the troops back to their home base, Camp Devens, Mass, less than 2 hours away. It didn’t take long load up the trains and the men were on the last leg of their trip.

It’s a cold and rainy day here, nothing like the warm, sunny day 100 years ago. No bands playing or photographers or newspaper reporters either. I’m glad the 301st Engineers got a rousing welcome home though. They had earned it.

Commonwealth Pier 1919:


Commonwealth Pier June 13, 2019:






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