My grandfather fought in the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division. When my brother and I were young, he would regale us with old-soldier stories. Sometime in the 1980s I tried to get his war service record, only to find that most of the personnel files from World War I were destroyed in a fire in 1973. As a substitute I read a history of his regiment, which first made me aware of the assault on Montfaucon; I learned that Company G, my grandfather’s company, had been the first to gain the top of the hill. Digging further, I discovered that little had been written about that bloody and important engagement, save for one or two pages in general histories of the AEF and a few articles in old, obscure military journals. I complained to my wife that there was no book on my grandfather’s battle; to my surprise, she suggested that I write it. That led to a seventeen-year effort that included archival research in Washington, Baltimore, Paris, West Point, and Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
In 1999 I spent a week walking the battlefield. Although the farmers’ fields in the Lorraine had long been restored to their smooth contours, the ground on which the woodlots stood looked like a sea that had been frozen in the midst of a storm—shell holes and trench lines, much eroded, still visible in the underbrush. The first climax of the tour was the moment I found and stood in the remains of the trench from which my grandfather’s battalion attacked up the hill. The second was when I walked among the 14,000 graves in the American World War I military cemetery at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, feeling for the first time how fortunate my grandfather was--and I am--that he returned home.
I am an engineering graduate of MIT. My early career included eight years of research and tactical studies in anti-submarine warfare as a contractor to the U.S. Navy. Over thirty years ago I co-founded The Cadmus Group, Inc., which specializes in program development, evaluation, and policy research in environmental protection, energy efficiency, sustainable development, and emergency preparedness, including homeland security. It now has more than 550 employees. Most recently I wrote portions of the U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Plan for Water and Wastewater for the Department of Homeland Security, and a review of over seventy water security technologies and procedures for the U.S. EPA. Semi-retired, I remain Chairman of the Board and a member of the company’s editorial group.