Lieutenant Morgan McDermott's Biography


Our post was named to posthumously honor Morgan Bland McDermott, of Tucson, who served in France,

as a First Lieutenant in Compnay B, 7th Engineers, Fifth Division, U.S. Army.

     This illustrious name was adopted at the sixth meeting of World War I veterans held in Tucson on July 7th, 1919. Sixty-seven ex-servicemen attended the meeting and after a unanimous vote, Commander Joseph Roberts declared the Post so named.

     The story of Lieutenant McDermott's honorable service and supreme sacrifice is one of which our fellow townsmen can be proud. It is in the best tradition of the three great defensive services of our country.

     Morgan McDermott was born in Butte City, Montana on August 9th, 1893. In 1899 his parents moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and he attended All Hallows College. The years from 1904 to 1907 were spent in Jerome, Arizona, where his father was Superintendent of the United Verde Mine. Then his family moved to Tucson, Arizona where his father was Gerneral manager of the Twin Buttes Mine and Railroad. Morgan went to public schools in Tucson and to the university of Ithaca, New York. After a four year course, he graduated in 1916 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and went into the employ of the Wagner Electric Manufacturing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

     While at Cornell University he voluntarily took the prescribed military training under the supervision of the Students Training Corps. On May 14th, 1917, he volunteered his services to his country for active duty and was accepted and assigned to the Engineer Company, 9th Provisional Training Regiment at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. After a vigorous training and several changes, he was finally assigned as a Lieutenant in Company B, 7th Engineer Regiment, 5th Division, U.S. Army.

     In connection with Morgan McDermott's family, we find that his paternal grandfather was City Engineer of Milwaukee from 1849 to 1852 and later was City Surveyor of Chicago, and eventually became a mining engineer and held positions previously referred to in this resume.

     Morgan McDermott was survived by his father, mother, and two sisters, Ora and Edith. One brother-in-law, Captain W.H. Morgan served in the Artillery and another brother-in-law, Captain E.E. Rogers, was in the Navy. He also had seven cousins who served in the Army or Navy in World War I. His father wanted to serve in World War I but was rejected except for such services as could be rendered in Tucson.

     Colonel E.C. Paules, commanding the 7th Engineers, furnishes the following details:

"Lieutenant McDermott graduated from the Engineers Officers Training Camp at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, August 15th, 1917, and was commissioned to duty with the 7th Regiment Engineers, which Regiment was being organized at Fort Leavenworth for service overseas. Lieut. McDermott was assigned to duty with the first Battalion of the Regiment and assisted in training and completing the organization of the Regiment."

     "In February, 1918, the Regimental Commander was called upon to send certain selected officers and non-commissioned officers overseas ahead of the Regiment for special instruction so that they might assist in training the troops of their division when they arrived in France. Lieut. McDermott was among those selected and sailed from New York March 3rd, 1918, with what was known as "The Advanced School Detachment of the 5th Regular Division."

     "After completing his course then at the Second Corps School at Chatillon, France, Lieut. McDermott rejoined the Regiment at Rimaucort, France, the latter part of April. The Regiment at that time was engaged in hospital and other building construction in the advance section of the S.O.S."

     "On June 29th, 1918, Lieut. McDermott was relieved from duty with the Regiment and ordered to the Army Engineer School at Langres, France for special instruction. From Langres, he was sent to join the Engineer Regiment of the 92nd Division which Division relieved the 5th Divsion in the Vosges in August 1918. At that time, arrangements were made to have Lieut. McDermott returned to duty with his old Regiment and he rejoined the 7th Engineers on September 25, 1918, on the Meuse-Argonne front. Here he assisted in road construction and traffic regulation on the historic road leading over to Hill 304 on the Verdun front."

     Morgan McDermott Post No. 7 received its permanent charter dated February 3rd, 1931 signed by Department Commander Russell Meadows and National Commander Ralph T. O'Neil as evidence of the lawful existence thereof.

     A supplemental charter was issued making the Post a corporation and was signed by the National Commander, S.S. Chadwick on May 16th, 1919 and signed by Department Commander W.A. Clark on May 20th, 1939. Morgan McDermott Post No. 7 continues to operate on its own charters as before mentioned and on its supplemental charter of incorporation. 

     "On October 13th, the Division re-entered "Line" again and so on the 12th of October, Lieut. McDermott's Battalion fought as infantry covering the left flank of the 5th Division in its attack on that date. The Battalion assisted in the capture of Ramagne and took prisoners from the 28th German Division (known as the Kaisers Own Division). Lieut. McDermott was commander of "B" Company of his Regiment on that date."

"On the 19th or 20th of October, the Division attacked the Bois-des-Rappes and Lieut. McDermott commanded the Engineer troops in the attack. The function of the engineers was to establish the "wire-in" and strong points in the woods after they had been captured by the infantry. From his men, who were with him at the time, I learned that Lieut. McDermott in his eagerness to reconnoiter for his postions, found himself within the German lines and while attending to a wounded man, was severely wounded himself. Lieut. McDermott died from these wounds a few days later in the Field Hospital just behind the lines."

     "For his bravery in action that date he was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and the posthumous award was made."

     Just as no one ever heard "Mac" as he was known, say an ill word against anyone, so I never heard an ill word against him. He was loved by all his comrades and had the respect of his men and of his commanding officers. He was on of the highest type of those who made the A.E.F what it was."

     Morgan McDermott's body was brought back from France and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on August 8th, 1921.

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2© Morgan McDermott American Legion Post 7 2016