When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home

Posted on centenarynews.com on 04 April 2017
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Author: Marian Small
Publication Date: 15 July 2016

Publisher's Description:

'A true account of the experiences of 1st Sergeant John Russell Small - an American First World War veteran - written by his daughter. At the age of 89, Marian Small set out to tell the story of a 20-year-old boy whose love of adventure took him in 1916 to the Texas/Mexican border to join Brigadier-General John J. Pershing in the pursuit of Pancho Villa, the Mexican bandit, and then in 1918 to the trenches in France and No Man’s Land.'

'This is a compelling human interest story that recognizes the valor of the doughboys in WWI. Those who returned to the country they loved faced many hardships, including the Great Depression. The war, however, had given them the will to survive and it was through them and their stubbornness, frugality, pride and a firm belief in disciplining their children that a generation was born that, in later years, after a second World War, became known as the greatest generation.'

Marian Small, pictured with the medals awarded to her father,1st Sergeant John Russell Small, and some of his personal belongings from the Great War. She comments:

"My father kept a diary and wrote long letters home describing in detail, almost daily, the war as he was experiencing it in the trenches of France in 1918. He was wounded during the Meuse-Argonne Battle that ended the war. He was severely wounded on his fourth consecutive day of ‘going over the top’. His legs were mangled; thus the title. His diary was retrieved and he continued to write in it while he lay flat on his back in four different hospitals in France for six months as they operated on his legs, without success. He came home to America on a stretcher and spent an additional year and two months in hospitals here, enduring nine major surgeries and 21 minor ones. He left Walter Reed Hospital in 1920 on two crutches he would use for the rest of his life.

"My father won the Purple Heart and four other medals which I have framed. There are many WWI pictures in the book."

When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home, published by the FriesenPress, won the 2016 Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge National Award, George Washington Medal of Honor.

Centenary News Review 

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Photo courtesy Marian Small

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