Harry Truman became a charter member of the newly formed Battery B of the Missouri National Guard on June 14, 1905 where he served as battery clerk and was discharged a corporal in 1906. But with the United States declaration of war on Germany, he reenlisted in the Missouri National Guard, where he was elected first lieutenant at the age of 33 in the 2nd Missouri Field Artillery. On August 5, 1917 his unit was sworn into the Regular Army as the 129th Field Artillery on the 35th Division. He was given command of Battery D on July 11, 1918 in Brittany. Captain Truman developed his battery into a topnotch combat unit. At the end of a month the battery was setting regitmental records for firing accuracy and speed in disassembling, moving and setting up the guns for firing. Truman had won the unit’s respect and admiration as well. Truman’s concern and respect for his unit can be summed up with his own comment, “I want to tell you this, too, fellows. Right now, I’m where I want to be—in command of this battery. I’d rather be here than president of the United States.” Harry S. Truman was discharged from the U.S. Army as a captain in 1919. He became 33rd president of the United States of America in 1945. His World War I service stood him in good stead as he realized the critical importance of capable and competent leadership and the value of team work. Today the 129th Field Artillery maintains a Battery D “Truman’s Battery”—the only Battery D in the National Guard—in his honor.
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