Joe Carson Post Organizes Parade in Honor of Company D, 2d Battalion, 111th Engineers, 36th Division
After the armistice on November 11, 1918, communities across the United States waited anxiously for the return of local National Guard units mustered into service to fight overseas. Tulsa was no exception. While Tulsa soldiers served in many units in World War I, Tulsa County had a particular attachment to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 111th Engineer Regiment, 36th Division, since the company was formed from Tulsa County volunteers, and known as the "Tulsa Engineers." Company D arrived in France on July 30, 1918, and fought in the final offensives of the war: St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. When city leaders learned in mid-May, 1919 that the 111th was scheduled to return to the United States in mid-June for mustering out at Camp Bowie, Texas, they convinced the War Department to route the regiment's train through Tulsa. The 111th (including Company D) was therefore scheduled to stop in Tulsa for four hours on the evening of June 12, 1919. This left very little time for an event to honor these brave soldiers.
Although Joe Carson Post was just days old, the membership immediately assumed responsibility for planning a parade in honor of the returning regiment. In less than a month, Joe Carson Post planned and executed the largest military parade to that date in Oklahoma. The soldiers arrived at the train station downtown at approximately 7:30 p.m. and were immediately whisked away to the parade. The parade included both battalions of the 111th Engineers and over 1,000 other Tulsa veterans in uniform (including the entire Joe Carson Post membership). Company D was the last element in the parade. The most notable decoration on the parade route was a "Welcome Home Arch" (modeled after the famous Arc d'Triomphe in Paris) that the parade passed through as it reached the reviewing stand on Main Street. The Post raised $3,500 (equal to roughly $50,000 in 2015) to build this temporary arch, which was barely finished in time for the parade. A photo of the parade passing through the arch is uploaded as a companion to this chronology entry. All of the over 2,000 participants marching in this parade were given whistles and other noisemakers to ensure the parade created an uproar. These noisemakers were accompanied by the continuous noise from steam whistles, factory whistles, church bells and other noise makers all over town. Soldiers who still had their hearing after leaving France must have been deaf by the end of the parade! After the festivities, the 111th Engineers boarded their train and pulled out at midnight, and the entire town (and probably the soldiers as well) was exhausted.
Although Joe Carson Post had been in existence for less than a month, the membership demonstrated its commitment to veterans and the community by organizing this exciting and unforgettable event in record time.
If you would like to read more on this event, visit http://gateway.okhistory.org and read the digitized versions of The Morning Tulsa Daily World for May 21, May 31, June 3, June 7, June 12, and June 13, 1919. Those who are interested in Company D, 2nd Battalion, 111th Engineers, will find additional information in the history section of our Post 1 Website.