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Montgomery County Historical Commission Seeks Information on World War I Veterans


Lt. Thomas Earle Gentry. (Photo from his granddaughter, Susie Pokorski.

Lt. Thomas Earle Gentry. (Photo from his granddaughter, Susie Pokorski.

Project Will Result In A Book With The Compiled Stories

In February 1918, three months shy of his 22nd birthday, Thomas Earle Gentry was inducted into the U.S. Army as a private from Conroe. The second decade of the 20th century had been defined by the turmoil of a bitter war that stretched across the globe and was greater than any that had preceded it. Although the armistice that ceased combat and ultimately ended the conflict was only nine months away, in February 1918 the outcome of this war was anything but decided. Much hard fighting lay ahead for the young soldiers.

The gravity of an uncertain future certainly weighed on Gentry’s mind as he was shipped from Montgomery County to Camp Pike, Arkansas to train as an infantry replacement. As fate would have it, Gentry would not leave U.S. soil. Rather, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in October 1918 and sent to Camp Sherman, Ohio where he trained more troops until his discharge in September 1919 after the war’s end.

The impact of World War I on the globe was immeasurable and reached all corners of humanity. The war produced more than 18 million deaths and left an additional 23 million people physically wounded, not to mention the countless veterans that carried the unseen psychological scars of a bloody war. Many of those men who survived returned to their homes in Montgomery County where they attempted to resume their lives with their families and friends. Some were destroyed by their experiences, yet many made crucial contributions to the development of their communities.

Although he only served 20 months near the end of the war and never left the U.S., Gentry’s experience’s as a soldier certainly influenced his years as a veteran in Montgomery County. He returned to open Gentry’s Men Store in downtown Conroe, participated in the fledgling Conroe volunteer fire department, served as the president of the Conroe Chamber of Commerce and was elected as mayor of Conroe. When the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Gentry rejoined the Army in 1942 at the age of 46. He ultimately served in Europe as a captain in the Military Police, guarding prisoners of war.

The Montgomery County Historical Commission (MCHC) is currently in the process of telling the stories of these veterans, and has begun compiling a collection of biographies to detail their lives and how they impacted Montgomery County in the 1920s and 1930s. The Commission’s plans are for the book project to include 20 to 25 biographies of World War I veterans who were either born in Montgomery County or later came to live in the county after their service. The book appendix will also include a list of all Montgomery County WWI veterans to honor their service.

The goal is to have the book published and available by the 100th anniversary of the WWI armistice on Nov. 18, 2018.

The MCHC would like to hear from anyone who may have information about men and women from the county who served in the military during World War I. Contact Dr. J. Ross Dancy, the director of the Montgomery County Historical Comm­ission’s World War One project, at mchc.ww1@gmail.com. The committee looks forward to hearing from you.

 

The Montgomery County Historical Commission Is Looking For The Following Types Of Information About World War I Veterans From Montgomery County:

  • Any photos, particularly those of him in uniform
  • Details concerning his birth and death dates
  • Where he lived and where he is buried
  • What his life was like before going into the service
  • The unit he served in and how he came to enter the service
  • What his life was like while in the service, particularly in Europe during the war
  • What his life was like when he returned home
  • Any other stories or experiences that describe what life may have been like for him and his family in the first half of the 20th century

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