Co. E 140th Infantry, 35th Division
By Russ Bryan – Grandson of W.E. Pearson
Walter Edward Pearson was born near Rogersville, Tennessee on 3 Oct 1894. He was the tenth of eleven children of Walter Glen Pearson and Delpha Ann Walters. In 1901 the family moved to Missouri.
He was living near Amity, Missouri and at 23 years of age, he was inducted into the Army at Maysville, Missouri on 2 Oct 1917, Service No. 2184228. Initial training was received at Camp Funston, Kansas. He then went to Camp Mills, New York and departed in April 1918 to France via England. He traveled through Liverpool, Manchester, and London, then on to La Havre, France.
Reel S1260, Missouri State Archives indicates his overseas service from 25 Apr 1918 to 16 Dec 1918.
He fought in the Vosges Mountains and Meuse-Argonne Battles. He received shrapnel wounds near Exermont, France on 28 Sep 1918. The round, which wounded him, also wounded five other soldiers and killed three. The survivors made it to an aid station the following day. He recovered from his wounds and left St. Nazier, France on Thanksgiving Day, 28 Nov 1918. He landed at Newport News, Virginia on 16 Dec 1918. He received the WWI Victory Medal and in 1932, the Purple Heart.
"Ed" Pearson was my Grandfather and lived with my family while I was growing up. When I got older, he used to tell me stories of WW1. The weapon he carried was a French made "Chauchat" fully automatic rifle. He said he mostly fired it from the hip or while using the bipod. The weapon weighed about 20 pounds. He said that when advancing under fire they were trained to, "fire two rounds, every time their right foot hit the ground". He also explained how to correctly throw a hand grenade. Many of the things he told me, I see now were the result of his infantry training. He once told me, "If you’re caught out in the open and you hear an "aeroplane" you lay down. Your shadow is what the enemy sees from the air. Your uniform blends in with the ground and makes it harder for them to see you" This was all fascinating to me at 12 years old.
After the war, he married Cora Nevitt from Weatherby, Missouri. They had six children. She passed away in 1936 from pneumonia. He never remarried.
While he was serving as a "Night Marshal" in Jamesport, Missouri the U.S. became involved in WWII. "Ed" Pearson tried to reenlist in the Army. He still had shrapnel in his back from his WWI wounds. He was also approaching 50 years of age. He was turned down for active service. Not being deterred from serving his country, he went to work on the AL-CAN Highway. A photo was taken of him near Whitehorse, Yukon with co-workers standing next to a billboard sign that indicates, "3667 miles to Chillicothe Business College". This distance is extreme, but interstates did not exist at the time of the photo, 1942.
During his life he was a soldier, farmer, postmaster, policeman, cook, and packinghouse worker. He passed away in 1971 and was laid to rest near Helena, Missouri.