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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago today: Spokane soldier earns Distinguished Service Cross for heroism

From the Dec. 18, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)
From the Dec. 18, 1918 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)

Capt. John Alexander Humbird became the first Spokane soldier to earn the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism in action.”

The War Department’s citation said that Capt. Humbird led a group of men “through barbed wire entanglements in the face of machine gun fire and hand grenades” and “cleaned out a trench, capturing a strong enemy machine gun emplacement and its entire crew.”

U.S. forces subsequently captured the French town of Marcheville. Capt. Humbird then organized a machine gun position and antiaircraft gun position under heavy fire. When German forces briefly recaptured Marcheville, Capt. Humbird led his platoon in the counterattack.

Because of his extraordinary performance, he was given a battlefield promotion from first lieutenant to captain. The medal citation also noted his courage and performance at Chateau Thierry.

Capt. Humbird, 30, worked in his father’s lumber operations in North Idaho before he was commissioned into the Army. He lived in Sandpoint for several years before moving to Spokane, where he planned to return after demobilization.

From the flu beat: City health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson reiterated his pledge to keep the partial ban on public gatherings in place until at least January.

Theater owners were gathering signatures on petitions to end the ban, but Dr. Anderson declared that these petitions “will come to naught.”

“There will be no Christmas or New Year’s celebrations this year if I can stop them,” he said.

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