This photo recently surfaced, which I had never seen until undertaking this project. It is a wonderful photograph.
Someone had ruined the photograph by circling Adam’s face with a ballpoint pen, and had scrawled “Uncle Adam?” off to one side. This suggests that the man standing in the picture was known, and perhaps the father of the graffiti artist, and therefore likely Adam’s cousin. The standing man has to be Adam’s cousin Charles.
So, this was the cousin from the family story that had been told to me by my Aunt Ruth. Not a German native or an enemy combatant as I had always imagined as a kid, but another Private Brigner from Ohio, serving in the AEF. The patch of the 2nd Division, in which Charles is known to have served, is clearly visible on his left shoulder.
It took me quite some time to Photoshop out the ballpoint pen, and to bring some contrast and detail to the faded and yellowed picture. I must say, I am very happy with the results.
For whatever reason, Adam does not appear to be wearing the brass U.S. and 7th Infantry collar disks, here.
Note, though, the service ribbon above both men’s left breast pocket. At first, the outer white edges of the ribbons led me to believe that they were the black, white, and red German Occupation ribbon. However, this award was not issued until 1941, ironically just three weeks prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Any service member who performed occupation garrison duty in either Germany or Austria-Hungary was entitled to the Army of the Occupation of Germany medal.
With Adam having been garrisoned in Andernach after the Armistice, and Charles just a stone’s throw up the Rhine in Bendorf, it would seem that both men would have been eligible. However, veterans were required to apply to the War Department to receive their award. It is unknown whether Adam or Charles ever applied for or obtained their WWI Occupation ribbon and the medal that accompanied it.
The service ribbon that is still affixed to Adam’s uniform is the same color pattern of the WWI Victory medal. Although created in 1919, the Victory medal was not distributed until 1921, via the US Mail. However, I cannot find information on the date of issue of the service ribbon. Even though the light and dark areas of the ribbons in the photograph do not seem to quite match the color pattern of the Victory ribbon, I have to assume that is what they were wearing. Another mystery, most likely never to be solved.
At the time this photo was taken, Adam was wearing his second, six-month Service Chevron mid-way up the left sleeve of his blouse, indicating that he had now served a year in a forward area. Since Charles left for home on August 1, this would therefore place this picture in the June/July, 1919 time frame.
I wonder if they had opportunity to spend much time together? Certainly enough time to have this photo taken, probably right before they both shipped home.
Charles sailed from Brest, France on August 1, 1919 and was discharged from the Army on August 15, 1919. Adam shipped out of Brest on August 13, arrived in Brooklyn and the Camp Merritt, New Jersey Disembarkation Camp on the 22nd, and was discharged two weeks later at Camp Sherman, Ohio, on August 27.