Thursday, February 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Military Records for Elmer D. Hopkins

Elmer D. Hopkins, 15th Cavalry Troop E

Elmer D. Hopkins was my grandfather. I knew Papaw served in the US Army. I heard the stories about the cavalry and cleaning out horse stalls but that's about all I remember. I thought it was interesting that he rode a horse in the Army but, as with most every other family story, I didn't give it too much thought until I became interested in genealogy (over twenty years after he died). Early on, I found that next of kin could order military records from NARA. I had the dates he served in two separate tours of duty and his serial number from the 2nd tour (thanks to Mamaw's family tree book). I didn't meet NARA's definition of next of kin but my mother did so I completed the form, had her sign it and sent it off.

In the meantime, I visited my Aunt Edna to scan some of her pictures (have laptop and small scanner, will travel). At some point, I mentioned that I had ordered Papaw's military records and she pulled out his discharge papers. Turns out that it's a really good thing she had them because the records I received a few months later from NARA were for a completely different Elmer Hopkins who had served in WWII, not WWI and pre-WWI (so much for their privacy/next of kin requirements). No doubt Papaw's records were among the many records for personnel discharged between 1 Nov 1912 and 1 Jan 1960 that were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.


Papaw enlisted on 4 Dec 1911 at Middlesboro, Kentucky and was discharged on 3 Dec 1914 at Ft. Bliss, Texas.  During that tour, he served in the 15th Calvary, Troop E. 

According to these discharge papers, he "participated in the internment of the Mexican Federal Army after their evacuation of Ojinaga, Mexico Jan 10-20, 1914". In January 1914, Pancho Villa and his army drove the Mexican Federal Army out of Ojinaga and to avoid being captured by Villa, they crossed the border into Texas and surrendered to US troops. The Mexicans were interned in Fort Bliss, Texas and Fort Wingate, New Mexico for almost a year. 



Although there is no indication on this set of discharge papers, he may have been drafted for this 2nd tour. Definitely he registered for the WWI draft on 5 Jun 1917. Mamaw wrote that he "enlisted" in 1911 and that he was "inducted" in 1918 so it seems like she was indicating a difference in the two. He was inducted on 24 May 1918 at Mount Vernon, Kentucky and was discharged on 12 Jun 1919 at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky (near Louisville). From 6 Aug 1918 to 28 May 1919, he was stationed in France.

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