Leo Thomas Leyden, the first Denver man to be killed in action, was born in Denver and lived here most of his life. He was educated in the public schools and in the Denver University.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps on July 1, 1917 and took his training at Mare Island, California. He was transferred to Quautico, Virginia in November, 1917. He was assigned to the 17th Company, 5th Regiment, U.S.M.C. On December 27th he had his first experience with the Hun, when an attempt was made to torpedo the ship, but instead, the sub was destroyed. It was the same day that he arrived in France.
He saw action near Verdun early in the spring of 1918 where he was gassed. At the height of the German drive on Paris he was sent to the Chateau-Thierry Sector, where he helped repulse the German drive on Paris. Robert Graf, one of the members of this Post was in the same Company with Leo. On June 6th, Bob was lying in an advanced, exposed position, seriously wounded. Leyden, a runner for the platoon, came across Graf and, without regard for himself threw his wounded Denver buddy over his shoulder and carried him over 500 yards through a heavy shell fire, to a dressing station. On the morning of June 15th Leo was in a dugout, awaiting orders to go on outpost duty when a large shell made a direct hit on the dugout, killing him. He was buried near Lucy and later his body was returned to Denver, where his remains were intered in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Captain Marcellus Holmes Chiles was another Denver boy who paid the supreme sacrifice, having been a member of Company A, 356th Infantry, 89th Division. He died on November 5th, 1918, from wounds received in action in the Argonne. He was designated as one of the one hundred heroes of the World War.
He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously) and his citation reads as follows:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Le Champs Bas, France, November 3, 1918.
When his battalion, of which he had just taken command, was halted by machinegun fire from the front and left flank, Captain Chiles picked up the rifle of a dead soldier and calling on his men to follow, led the advance across a stream waist deep in the face of the machine gun fire. Upon reaching the opposite bank, this gallant officer was seriously wounded in the abdomen by a sniper, but before permitting himself to be evacuated he made complete arrangements for turning over his command to the next senior officer, and under the inspiration of his fearless leadership his battalion reached its objective. He died shortly after reaching the hospital.
Marcellus Holmes Chiles was buried in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, Romagne Sout-Mont-Fancon, Department of Meuse France.
J. Hunter Wickersham was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., Feb. 3, 1890. He came to Denver when a small boy and received his education in Denver.
He went to the First Officers Training Camp at Fort Riley, Kansas in May, 1917. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to Company H, 353rd Infantry 89th Division. Lt. Wickersham, was killed while leading his platoon on Sept. 12, 1918. For his heroism during the engagement in which he met his death. Lt. Wickersham was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor. General Pershing included Wickersham’s conduct as one of the hundred most heroic acts of the War. His body now rests in the American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France. A present day picture of the St Mihiel Cemetery is available on the The American Battle Monuments Commission website.
John Hunter Wickersham is also featured in a brief video tour of the St. Mihiel American Cemetery in France on the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) web site . St. Mihiel windows media video
The Medal Of Honor citation reads as follows: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidty above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Limey, France, Sept. 12, 1918. Advancing with his platoon during the St Mihiel offensive, Lt. Wickersham was severely wounded in four places by the bursting of a high explosive shell. Before receiving any aid for himself, he dressed the wound of his orderly, who was wounded at the same time. He then ordered and accompanied the further advance of his platoon, although weakened by the loss of blood. His right hand and arm being disabled by wounds, he continued to fire his revolver and with his left hand until exhausted by the loss of blood. He fell and died from his wounds before aid could be administered.