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California Offices and Organizations - Remembering WW1



The Burdick Military History Project

 Located at the History Department at San Jose State University


By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


burdick booksThe Burdick Military History Project is part of the History Department at San Jose State University and supports the study and teaching of military history, the education of Student Veterans, spouses and dependents, military students, ROTC cadets, and the United States Armed Forces recruiting and educational efforts. It exists in honor of Professor Charles B. Burdick and his contributions to the study of military history.

The Charles B. Burdick Military History Collection represents the research files and collections amassed by military historian and SJSU history professor, Charles B. Burdick. The collection documents the history of World War I and World War II. Over 10,000 books, photographs and artifacts kept in the Burdick Military History Project Collection, located at Industrial Studies Room 239 do not circulate, but the room is open to the public for study. Student Veterans, dependents and spouses, military students, ROTC cadets and military recruiters are especially welcome. Dr. Jonathan Roth, Director of the Burdick Military History Project expresses that, "This is a Military-Friendly Space."

Read more: The Burdick Military History Project



The California Office of Historic Preservation


by Diane Barclay, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, California Office of Historic Preservation


ohp header organizationThe California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) administers federally and state mandated historic preservation programs to further the identification, evaluation, registration, and protection of California’s irreplaceable resources. The OHP promotes a historic preservation ethic through preservation education and public awareness and by demonstrating leadership and stewardship for historic preservation in California.

Preserving our collective California heritage, however, is a task that no government agency by itself can accomplish. The strength of historic preservation is found in the dedication and actions of individual citizens coming together to save, restore, and celebrate those places and stories most important to them and to our shared history as Californians. Preservation is personal; it is the individual stories that illuminate and give context to the greater collective history or significance of a place or event. Such is the case with World War I and California’s role in the Great War. Behind the broader scope of the war are the individual histories of Californians who served and sacrificed on the lines of battle as well as those who remained home, but kept minds and hearts turned toward the conflict half a world away. Found within many California communities are memorials, veterans’ halls, and other WWI associated sites, while individual families hold cherished mementos and stories of family members who served in the war.cal state hist Res comm ww1 Resolution presentation resultFrom left to right: California State Hist. Resources Commissioner Marshall McKay, California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten, Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra, and State Historic Preservation Officer Julianne Polanco

The efforts of the California World War I Centennial Task Force and their partners throughout the state, helped to successfully restore, preserve, honor, and draw attention to California’s World War I heritage. They ensured that present and future generations will be able to visit WWI sites, and just as importantly, will know the stories of the many individuals in whose memory these sites exist. The Office of Historic Preservation feels privileged to have had the opportunity to engage with the members of the California World War I Centennial Task Force, and to witness firsthand the dedication they brought, on behalf of their fellow citizens, to preserving and sharing this important chapter in California’s history.






California State Military Museum

The Official State Resource to California's Military History


By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


In February of 2017, the ground breaking of the new California State Military Museum in Sacramento was announced and has been making steady progress.cal mil hist muse groundbreaking

In addition to its main location in Sacramento, the Museum has five satellite Museums located at Camp Roberts in southern Monterey County, Camp San Luis Obispo, Fresno Air National Guard Base, the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base in Orange County and the National Guard Armory in San Diego.

Californians have a long and proud tradition of service that stretches back over two centuries when Alta California was a Spanish colony and later a Mexican province, and the California State Military History Museum desires to share that with our citizenry. Since joining the Union, California has provided more of its citizens to our common defense than any other state.
capt nelson holdermanAs an example of the California soldier's commitment, consider Nelson Holderman, thought by many to be the most decorated American soldier of the First World War. He served in the California National Guard before and after the war. He is most notable for commanding a rifle company of the famous Lost Battalion during World War I for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Status of the California State Military Museum System

Since February of 2017, the museum team has taken possession of the first of five buildings at the 28th and B streets site in Sacramento. This building will serve as a workshop and large item storage area. for vehicles, helicopters, tanks, and more. Also being prepared is an additional building for transfer. This is a large open warehouse that will become the main public space.

Read more: California State Military Museum



The 40 and 8 - La Société des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevau

 100 Years of Tradition Still Alive


by Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


The Doughboy and the Boxcar

U.S. Doughboys on a French train and 40and8 boxcarsIn 1917 when the first U.S. soldiers left for France they travelled in a variety of conveyances. Trains in the U.S. ranged in style from flatcars (that hitch-hikers were ejected from,) to Pullmans with drawing rooms, and fancy private coaches. But, all that changed when they arrived in France.

Everyone in France traveling by train rode in boxcars (voiture in French ,) whether they were animal or human. Each boxcar had the same capacity throughout France, so they all looked similar.

Upon loading into one, many a Doughboy would wonder at the same French words and same numbers that were painted on the exterior of each car.

“Wonder what that means?” a fellow from the rolling hills of the San Gabriel Valley might ask as he climbed in.

His Los Angelino buddy he had met at camp chuckled, “Must mean what the locals have to pay to ride. Good thing its free for us. I don’t even have a chevaux.”

“Here,” laughed another fellow from another little southern California town called Monte Vista (which would eventually be renamed Montclair,) “have one of mine,” and he pulled out a penny and tossed it to him.

From under the brim of his Montana Peak hat, a fourth Californian already sitting on the floor interrupted the fun saying, “Well I doubt that you could fit a chevaux in your pocket.”

“How do you know?” the insulted Monte Vistan snapped.

Raising his head, the Doughboy pointedly replied, “My Granddad was a gold-miner who came straight from Paris in 1849. He taught me to read French. You jokers got it all wrong. 40 Hommes/8 Chevaux means forty men and eight horses. I doubt you could hide a horse in your pocket.”WW1 American troops in a 40and8 French boxcarWW1 American troops in a 40and8 French boxcar [Note the censoring on the boxcar to prevent enemy from gathering information.]

Without a doubt, it is certain that every infantryman in the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) rode a 40 and 8 boxcar at least once. It was a well-appreciated mode of transport because the alternative meant sore feet, and wearing out a pair of shoes too soon since trucks and automobiles were uncommon. Thus, the Doughboys grew fond of the little boxcars.

Read more: The 40 and 8

California WW1 Centennial Task Force


Managing Board Co-Directors

Bill Betten
Sal Compagno
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Hugh E. Crooks, Jr.
Mike Hanlon
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.)
Prof. Jennifer Keene, Ph.D
Courtland Jindra
Dennis Matarrese
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Anthony Powell
Lester Probst
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.
Col. Fred Rutledge 

Northern California Committee

Sal Compagno
Mike Hanlon
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Nielsen
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)

Anthony Powell
Col. Fred Rutledge
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.

Southern California Committee

Bill Betten
Maria Carrillo
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.) 
Courtland Jindra
Lester Probst
Jeff Sharp

 Education Committee

Bill Betten, Master of Arts in Education, (Retired teacher DUSD, OUSD, AGUSD)
Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture at Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Scott Corbett, Ph.D, Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Chapman University
Michael Powelson, Ph.D., Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jonathan Roth, Ph.D., Professor of History, SJSU, Burdick Military History Project Director [Committee Chair]
Miriam Raub Vivian, Ph.D.,  Professor of History, CSUB

Website Administrator

Bill Betten


Email: courtland.jindra@worldwar1centennial.org

Snail Mail:
     California World War 1Centennial Task Force
     330 Myrtlewood Dr.
     Calimesa, CA 92320


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