Wyoming Army National Guard troops operate a 155 mm Howitzer, in July 1918 in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force that fought in World War I. (Wyoming National Guard)

One hundred years ago this month the U.S. entered World War I, organizing the American Expeditionary Force in France. Wyoming pitched in, mustering an infantry regiment of almost 1,700 National Guard troops at Fort D.A. Russell, now F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

The Third Infantry Regiment was broken up with battalions assigned to fill holes in other guard regiments, Maj. Thomas Blackburn of the State of Wyoming Military Department wrote in a release accompanying distribution of this historic photograph. His brief history said Wyoming commander Col. Joseph Cavender was assigned to the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, the most combat-engaged Wyoming unit. They arrived in France in 1918 and began training on 155 mm Howitzers they would use.

The printing on the photograph identifies the scene as depicting Co. “C” of the Wyoming National Guard in July 1918. “Wyoming’s first artillery shells fired against a European foe was on July 14, and would continue for two months,” Blackburn wrote.

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“The 148th spent 134 days on the front lines and had approximately 75 casualties,” Blackburn wrote. “Through three major campaigns, the 148th fired more than 67,000 artillery rounds.”

Cavender died from wounds sustained in France on Sept. 5, 1918, Blackburn wrote. Conflicting nations signed an armistice agreement Nov. 11, 1918. Wyoming guardsmen returned to the U.S. in the summer of 1919.


Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. Actually, Colonel Cavender did not die “from wounds sustained in France.” He committed suicide.