By William E. Welsh Chicago native Private John J. Kelly of the 78th Company of the 6th Marine Regiment and another soldier requested permission from First Lieutenant James M. Sellers on the eve of the U.S. infantry assault at Blanc Mont Ridge to reconnoiter the German position. Having received authorization, the two men crept cautiously towards the German’s frontline trench. When they received no fire, they continued directly toward the channel. Finding it unoccupied, they reported their findings to their superior officer. The intelligence was vital to the attack of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division scheduled for dawn on October 3, 1918. Instead of squandering precious time attacking an empty trench line, the Americans took advantage of the intelligence to move forward to the abandoned trenches during the daylight hours on October 2. They used the captured trenches as the jump-off point for their attack the following morning. When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, it initially seemed as if the U.S. Marines would be sidelined and not allowed to join the American Expeditionary Force. American General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing initially had no intention of having the Marines serve in France. However, Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ultimately persuaded Pershing to allow the Marines to fight in France. Pershing’s intent was to have Americans units fight together rather than parceling them out as rei


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