Over There: Andover in World War I This is the fourth of five annual articles honoring the centennial of World War I and the involvement of Phillips Academy and its students and alumni. For the fullest account of this chapter in Andover history, see Claude M. Fuess’s Phillips Academy, Andover, in the Great War at https:// archive.org/details/phillipsacademya00fues.
Dresser, “…you give me just the right kind of news about the old school…Put a stamp on a box of PA tobacco…and I will thank you.” Dresser was serving with the French Army. Later, he transferred to an American unit, driving a fast, lightly armored, British-made Whippet Tank. In July 1918 he wrote: “It is really good fun to drive down trenches and up the rear side, over stone walls, through woods and shell holes…” Sgt. Dresser was killed in action that September.
Navy Yard. Through his will, Lancashire left $20,000 to the Academy, “In fond recognition of the many benefits that I acquired during my student years at Andover.” His gift formed the nucleus of the Ammi Wright Lancashire Teaching Foundation, which supports a senior member of the faculty.
More than 2,000 Phillips Academy students and alumni heeded the call, most serving in the U.S. Army and Navy from the spring of 1917 through war’s end. But many signed up earlier, enlisting in the Canadian, British, and French military or with American-organized ambulance units, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. To honor their service and sacrifice, and most especially to honor 85 alumni who died in World War I, ground was broken for the Memorial Bell Tower in 1922. “Dear Smitty,” began a September 1917 letter from recent graduate George
The Newsletter of Andover and the Military
John Doherty ’59
Tet Offensive—The Call of Duty
James Knowles (Class of 1914) left Harvard to enlist in April 1917, hoping to become an aviator. Trained in France and commissioned a 1st lieutenant that November, in March 1918 he was assigned to the 95th Aero Squadron. Knowles was a natural as a fighter pilot and honored as an ace credited with downing five German planes. For his extraordinary wartime service, Knowles was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre. Knowles counted himself lucky, for World War I aviation was extremely dangerous; The Great War began in 1914, but the deaths from training accidents, mechanical United States remained neutral until April failure, and combat were common. So too, 1917. In contrast, Phillips Academy had to a lesser extent, was service in all units. effectively joined the war effort long before, Added to these dangers, the flu pandemic thanks to Trustee Henry Stimson and of 1918–1920 took a heavy toll. Among Headmaster Alfred Stearns—both advoAndover’s World War I dead, 19 were cating support for the British and French. aviators; 26 died in the ground war; and Through their efforts, rifle training was intro34 died of disease, primarily pneumonia duced in 1915, funds were raised to supand the flu. port the Allies, and an Andover Ambulance Unit, staffed by faculty and students, sailed Ammi Wright Lancashire (Class of 1908), for France. From 1915 on, Andover publica- an investment banker, was among those who died of pneumonia. Ensign tions were rife with war-inspired fiction, Lancashire, assigned to the Navy’s cable poems, letters from the front, and editorial censorship department, was stationed calls for patriotism and enlistment. Once aboard the USS Kansas, Philadelphia the United States declared war, students were organized into a training battalion. Jack Wright, a member of the Andover Ambulance Unit, wrote: “If any of the fellows left behind inquire about us, tell them we are standing on the shores of France to cheer the boat that will bring them.”
The Blue Guidon
The 1968 Tet Offensive embroiled South Vietnam in some of the most intensive fighting of the Vietnam War. In the historic city of Huê, a small garrison of American forces fought alongside their South Vietnamese allies to repel more than 7,500 North Vietnamese soldiers. It was here that Capt. John Doherty ’59 fought to help successfully staunch the North Vietnamese assault on the city.
Thomas Alexander Butkiewicz (Class of 1900) was the son of a postmaster in Luzerne County, Pa.: coal country. An outstanding athlete at PA and Princeton, Butkiewicz was voted onto football’s 1904 All-American team as a tackle. Returning to Luzerne County, he became a successful lawyer. In 1916 he closed his practice and joined a volunteer American ambulance section assisting the French 74th Infantry. His organizational ability, leadership, and repeated acts of bravery at the front earned Butkiewicz the Croix de Guerre. After the U.S. entered the war, Butkiewicz commanded U.S. Ambulance Service Section 523, again earning commendations for his devotion, fearlessness, and leadership. Discharged in March 1919, Butkiewicz then joined American Red Cross relief efforts in Poland. These sons of Andover put dreams aside, Turned from the paths of peace and took the shadowy trail, Rough, steep and wide. —Harold Crawford Stearns (Class of 1911) Phillips Bulletin, July 1919
For more on the First World War, watch PBS’s American Experience “Great War,” at www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/ films/great-war/. —David Chase Faculty Emeritus
After Andover, Doherty had enrolled at Harvard in the university’s Army ROTC program. Although aspiring to become a classics professor, Doherty cites his family’s generations of military service and their non sibi influence as motivating factors for him to serve. After graduating from Harvard in 1963, Doherty was commissioned as a military intelligence officer and reported to Fort Benning, Ga., and then Fort Holabird, Md., for schooling before serving a short stint with the Southern European Task Force in Verona, Italy. From Italy, Doherty was reassigned to Vietnam, arriving in Saigon in June 1966. Doherty’s first tour brought him to the city of Phan Thiêt, where he was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment—and where he truly found
a home. Serving as an assistant intelligence officer and prisoner of war interrogator, Doherty was instrumental in the planning and conduct of a number of high-profile raids against the Viet Cong. Motivated by his experiences and his fellow soldiers, Doherty volunteered for a second combat tour. After a brief 30-day break in the States, Doherty returned to Vietnam and was reassigned to a Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, advisory team in Huê. “Huê,” remarked Doherty, “was a completely different war than Phan Thiêt.” Unlike in the south, where forces mostly fought Viet Cong, the northern provinces faced the far better trained and equipped North Vietnamese Army. Doherty served as the G-2 air advisor to the South Vietnamese 1st Infantry Division and advisor to the division’s Reconnaissance Company, patrolling with the elite unit after the previous advisor was wounded. At 0340 on the morning of January 31, 1968, Doherty was in the advisory compound on the south side of the city when the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. The first rocket to hit the advisory compound destroyed Doherty’s jeep. For the next few harrowing days, alongside Marines and Soldiers, Doherty fought an urban battle against thousands of North Vietnamese. Doherty volunteered to patrol with Marines tasked with regaining control of the city. It was during this time that Doherty was wounded three times, including twice on February 4. Unable to be medically evacuated due to instability in the city, Doherty fought on for another two weeks before being evacuated by helicopter to Danang. After movement to Cho Lon, a suburb of Saigon, Doherty was wounded a fourth time when a rocket knocked him unconscious mere hours before his flight back to the United States for medical treatment and out-processing. “Military service is an honorable undertaking, and I believe it’s one way to give back to our country,” said Doherty. “Andover’s terrific military legacy is something worth celebrating.” Still involved in Vietnam veterans’ issues, Doherty returned to Vietnam this spring. —Capt. Hanson Causbie ‘08, U.S. Army