June 20, 1919 – An honorable discharge, an uncertain future

One hundred years ago today, June 20, 1919, Sergeant First Class Jay E. Shetler was honorably discharged from the Army of the United States.

Photo taken before discharge

Whalebone?  Though Jay was from the midwest, the 301st Engineers was comprised mainly of men from New England and especially Rhode Island:

New Englanders have been called either “Chowderheads”, “Whalebones”, or “Codheads” for centuries due to the fishing industries and the old whaling companies that used to operate there.

– Steven Girard

I don’t know if Whalebone was a compliment or an insult but I’m going with the former.

“And so we emerged from the shadows of the World War, and on June 20, 1919, came once again thru the portals of Camp Devens, back to our loved ones.  From out of our hearts went the burden of doubt and nameless fear, and their lips breathed a prayer of thankfulness to that guiding Power that had made the reunion possible.”

– Our Memoirs: Company A, 301st Engineers


Jay left the Army this day and walked into a very uncertain future, into what would become the darkest period of his life.  But with the help of a very special woman, he survived and built a full and rich life.

Saturday, the final entry of my blog will be posted as an Epilogue telling what happened to my grandfather after the war.


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