This Veterans Day, as we celebrate those who serve honorably, we also offer a historical salute to those who went before. Since the current Veterans Day holiday originally grew out of Armistice Day, an official effort to mark the first anniversary of the end of World War I, it seems fitting here to offer our salute to World War I vet and Townsend native, Benjamin Creamer Denny (1891-1958). Denny, the son of John W. & Martha Cassandra Naudain Denny of Townsend, Delaware, volunteered for service with the US Army in 1917 and served as a Supply Sergeant with Company K of the 59th Pioneer Infantry.
The 59th Pioneer Infantry Regiment was created early in 1918 out of three battalions of infantry from the National Guard for engineer and infantry combat duty. The regiment shipped out for France in September of that year to support the Allies in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Western Front and remained in the country on garrison duty until June 1919, when they returned home. Company K arrived at Foulain with six officers and 231 men on September 27, 1918 and served in a combat support role by building and maintaining railroads and water supply infrastructure.
Denny’s record of service with this regiment is preserved in a medal shadowbox presented to us by his son. This item contains a central photo of Denny in uniform surrounded by a medal display that consists of a Delaware medal for World War I service, a World War I victory ribbon with battle star, a medal awarded by the Association des Anciens Combattants de Verdun dated September 10, 1934, three regimental lapel buttons, and a Knights of Pythias European War medal. We are proud to be able to preserve this unique service record of an individual Delawarean for posterity. It can currently be seen on display as part of our new permanent exhibit, “One State, Many Stories.”
Our thanks to those who serve, and also to those who have served. Happy Veterans Day!