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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago: Gonzaga grad wins medal for ousting spy

A young soldier who had only been in camp a week found a spy for the kaiser rustling in the bushes. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A young soldier who had only been in camp a week found a spy for the kaiser rustling in the bushes. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Cpl. Tom Corkery Jr., of Spokane, won a distinguished service medal for capturing a German spy – without leaving his Maryland training camp.

Corkery was assigned to guard duty in camp when he saw something moving in the brush. He then saw “a rusty-looking head peeping over a bit of shrubbery.” Corkery, gun at the ready, approached the man who started to run. Corkery yelled, “Halt!” and detained the man.

The man claimed he was a farmer looking for his cows, but Corkery did not buy that story. “Young Corkery marched the captive back to camp where it was discovered that he was a real agent of the kaiser.”

The prisoner was put behind bars in the camp detention rooms awaiting his fate.

Corkery had been a student at Gonzaga University before joining the army in 1917.

From the war beat: The pine and spruce forests of the Inland Northwest were going to play an important part in winning the war, declared Col. Brice P. Disque, who was visiting Spokane from his Portland headquarters.

Why? Because white pine and spruce were crucial materials for building airplanes and the “aircraft program laid out by the government will win the war.”

He said the “Inland Empire would be called upon to furnish great quantities of this material.”

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