Salineville project honors military heroes

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The first military banner displayed in Salineville is for John Adams, the first village resident killed in WWI and the Salineville American Legion Post's namesake.

Banner honoring War War I casualty John Adams is first to go up outside American Legion Post 442

By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

The sun was shining brightly in the vivid blue sky Aug. 21 when family and friends gathered to honor the late John Adams of Salineville.

The gathering was held at the American Legion John Adams Post 442 in Salineville to hang a military banner in his honor in front of the Post. Adams was the first Salineville resident to be killed in World War I. 

Family from the area were joined by those who traveled from South Carolina and Texas for the event, family reunion and more. As more and more family members arrived and mingled with Post members and guests, the ease of small-town friendships returned, along with football stories. 

Post Adjutant Scott Hart explained the Post decided to hang banners on poles throughout town in memory and honor of Salineville area residents serving today and veterans. Due to Adams being the Post’s namesake, his was the first banner. 

Hart presented a brief overview of Adams’ military service prior to Adams’ nephew, Richard Johnston, of Wellsville speaking. 

“We are here today to honor John Ralph Adams with a banner,” Johnston said. “John was an 18-year-old Salineville boy who gave his life defending freedom in World War I.”

Adams served as a private with the USMC, 85th Company 6th Regiment 1st Platoon in France. 

Johnston’s “Uncle John” came from a large family with three brothers, Clayton, Cecil and David and seven sisters, Myrtle Phiney, Glenna Young, Margaret Palen, Nellie Carney, Grace Burgess, Lillian Duff and Mary Johnston (Richard’s mother).

While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Adams participated in the battles of Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood, where Johnston noted, Marines, who were outnumbered by enemy forces, kept the Germans from overrunning Paris and received a Purple Heart.

“We never knew how Uncle John died until we found a five-page letter dated March 23, 1919, in my mother’s attic,” Johnston continued. “Aunt Lil wrote an inquiry to the Marine Magazine requesting information about Uncle John’s death. The letter was written by Mr. Floyd Deitrick of Akron.”

In the letter, he described how supplies were slow getting to the frontlines. John and a buddy named Anderson volunteered to make water runs for the frontline troops. To get to the water, they had to dodge German machine gun fire. John shared a foxhole with Mr. Anderson. 

On June 13, 1918, they were out of the foxhole when the Germans started shelling their frontlines and racing back to cover, shrapnel exploded above their foxhole. Mr. Anderson was killed immediately, and Adams died before they could get him to the first aid station. 

“Sept. 9, 1921, three years after Uncle John died his body was shipped to Columbus, OH, where it was immediately sent to Salineville.  The American Legion Post 442 provided full military burial honors,” Johnston said. “Uncle John died defending freedom we all enjoy today.”

In closing, Johnston added, “On behalf of all Adams descendants, I would like to thank Scott Hart for his time and devotion to the banner project and the American Legion for their honor to veterans.”

Family members thanked Hart and noted, “the banner was beautiful” and “job well done”. The family presented Hart with a donation for the banner project and future projects.

The banner was created by Country Girl Custom Designs owned by Ryan and Cassandra Wilson of Salineville. The 12×18-inch vinyl banners will be placed on poles along Main St. to the village limits. Banners will be taken down during bad weather and stored at the Post. Each banner is $80. Anyone wishing to purchase a banner, can contact Hart at 330-852-7777.

American Legion John Adams Post 442 is located at 51 W. Main St., Salineville.

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