Monday, July 29, 2013

Military Monday - Deserter Becomes WWI Hero

When I ordered Edward Creeden's service records from NARA, I got a few surprises. The paperwork confirmed that he had enlisted in the US Army in 1904 and the US Marines in 1910. He was a sharpshooter and some of the paperwork showed that his marksmanship records from the Army were transferred to the Marines. He seemed to have a good military career going until he mysteriously disappeared from his Marine barracks on October 13, 1911. First a notice was posted on October 16, about a $10 reward for turning in Edward as a "straggler" from his post at the Navy Yard in Puget Sound, Washington.

That was followed by a notice posted on October 23, 1911 offering a $20 reward for turning in Edward as a deserter.

A letter in his file from his commanding officer shows that they were puzzled by Edward's disappearance. The letter stated that they could find no reason for Sergeant Creeden's desertion and that he had been an excellent soldier in every respect.

His service record showed a few prior violations, so there was some history of going AWOL.

On May 10, 1910, he was warned about carelessness in performance of duty. He was absent for 44 hours on May 14, 1910 and served 5 days confinement. He was absent again for 23 hours on May 18, 1910 and given a month's restrictions. It seems like something was going wrong for him.

Details given on his final desertion showed that  he left all clothing in good condition at his post and no reason could be found for his desertion.

There was no followup in the paperwork about what happened. The next record I found for Edward had him enlisting in the Army on January 19, 1912. This was only a few weeks after his desertion and was in Vancouver Barracks, Washington. So, Edward hadn't traveled too far. The records for his second stint in the Army didn't mention his Marines service, so I wonder if they were even aware of it. He was honorably discharged in 1915.

Edward followed up his Army service by enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1917. He served in WWI in England and France until he was wounded on April 9, 1918 in Arras, France. His right leg was amputated below the knee and he was sent back to Canada to recover. He was eventually discharged as medically unfit for duty in 1919.

Edward died alone and seemed to be estranged from his family. I still have a gap to investigate from his discharge in 1919 to his death in 1937.  Whatever happened with the Marines, he sacrificed a lot to fight with the Allied Forces in WWI and served honorably for several years in the US Army. It seems that he redeemed himself after his desertion and can certainly be considered a WWI hero.


  1. Kathryn,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful military research record. I will do the same for my military ancestor.

    1. You're welcome Carol! There was no information passed down about Edward, so his military records really helped to provide some idea of what his life was like. Thanks for stopping by!