During WWI, on October 2nd, 1918, units of the 77th “Liberty” Division from New York advanced into the dense terrain of the Argonne Forest in France. History was made over the next six days as this unit, the Lost Battalion, refused to surrender even though they were completely surrounded, constantly attacked, low on ammunition and supplies, without food and shelter, and with limited access to water. Of the over 600 men first trapped in the “pocket”, only around 200 walked out. Three Congressional Medals of Honor (CMH), Distinguished Service Crosses (DSC), and various honors were awarded to these brave soldiers.
Their Battalion Leader, Major Whittlesey, was declared one of the three most important members of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) by General Pershing, Commander of the AEF. An airman awarded a CMH for his involvement in the event had attempted the first air resupply drop in military history. Others trying to relieve the battalion also received the DSC. A carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, received international acclaim for heroically delivering a message. A movie of the event was made in 1919, and scores of books on the subject make it one of the most analyzed military actions in history. Sadly, Major Whittlesey committed suicide in 1921, and controversy has swirled around the event for over 80 years.