Joseph Hoke was born February 26, 1898, in Emeigh, Pennsylvania,1 a small coal-mining town in Susquehanna Township, opened by the Cherry Tree Coal Company in 1904-1905.2 He reported himself as an orphan with both parents being deceased.3 He was a member of the Boys Corn Club of Indiana County, winning $2 in a corn contest in 1914, where they were judged on the bushel yield of their 1.4 acre of corn.4 He lived in Homer City then, about 20 miles from his birthplace.
He served 27 years in the Army. He was a Veteran of the border conflicts between the U.S. and Mexico in the early 1900s and a veteran of both WWI and WWII.5 He began his service in March 1917,6 enlisting in the regular Army at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, Military Post, south of St. Louis. He was with Co. B, 64th Infantry.
In early 1916, an increasing number of border incidents with Mexico culminated in an invasion of American territory by Francisco (Pancho) Villa and his band of 500 to 1,000 men when they raided Columbus, New Mexico. Part of the 13th Cavalry fought back the attack, but there were 24 American casualties. A punitive expedition of about 10,000 men under Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing to capture Villa was initiated. Villa was never captured, and the Americans withdrew from Mexico in February 1917, but the military maintained a presence on the border and was involved in minor skirmishes with Mexican irregulars through 1919.7
Gen. Pershing felt hindered at every step by President Wilson’s attempts to prevent a war with what was going on in Europe at the time. Gen. Pershing later said,
“When the true history is written, it will not be a very inspiring chapter for school children, or even grownups to contemplate. Having dashed into Mexico with the intention of eating the Mexicans raw, we turned back at the first repulse and are now sneaking home under cover, like a whipped cur with its tail between its legs.”8
Joseph was promoted to private in February 1918, to corporal three weeks later, and to sergeant in December of that year. He served overseas with the 64th Infantry from August 26, 1918, to June 18, 1919, being honorably discharged in December for reenlistment.
The 34th and 64th Infantry were the 14th Brigade and were trained in France until October 1, 1918, when they were pronounced ready for action. They were sent to the Puvenelle Sector (Lorraine), where they were under fire from German snipers and machine guns, artillery barrages, and airplane bombardment.9
The 14th Brigade began readying itself for an attack on the Hindenburg Line with the 7th Division, which was part of the Second Army, in early November. Before it could begin a full assault, the Allies signed an Armistice ending hostilities.10 After 33 days on the front lines, the 7th Division had suffered 1,988 casualties. It was awarded one campaign streamer for Lorraine. The 14th Brigade performed occupation duties for the next year and began preparations to return to the United States.
During the 1920 U.S. Census, Joseph was listed as being with the Casual Company at Fort William McKinley near Manilla in the Philippines. It was the home of the 31st Infantry until December 1920.11 Joseph was a 22-year-old private and listed his residence as Fitzgerald, Georgia. The census indicated his parents were both born in Germany.12
No information could be found about his service between 1920 and 1941, when he reenlisted – again – on March 24 at Schofield Barracks, Territory of Hawaii.13 He must have been already there as part of the Hawaiian Division, charged with the defense of Oahu and the Hawaiian Islands. They built an elaborate system of coastal defenses before deploying for combat operations. Part of that Division made up the new core of the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions when they reorganized in 1941. These infantry divisions included the 35th Infantry Regiment14 that Joseph served in during WWII.
Schofield Barracks, an Army installation, was adjacent to Wheeler Army Airfield. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they also attacked airfields across Oahu with Schofield Barracks getting caught in the crossfire. Japanese planes strafed the barracks, hitting the ground and side of the building with machine gun fire. Soldiers stationed at the barracks went to the roof to fire back with their rifles but were mostly unsuccessful. And that is the day Joseph started his foreign service in WWII.
Link to image of aircraft burning at Wheeler Field with Schofield Barracks in foreground. Schofield Barracks Dec 7 1941 – Bing images
Joseph served in WWI on foreign soil through April 21, 1943, returning to the states to finish his domestic service. He was discharged December 31 at Percy Jones General Hospital, Battle Creek, Michigan. The hospital had been purchased by the Army in 1942 and converted into a 1,500-bed military hospital for treating soldiers who had been wounded in World War II.15
He did register for the draft February 23, 1944. At that time he was working at International Harvester Company. He was 45 years old and just 5’4 ½” tall, weighing 132 pounds.18 He initially was a security guard there, receiving some pistol training from a Rock Island police officer in February 1944.19 In 1945, he was still working at IHC and living in East Moline, Illinois.20 He retired from IHC after 18.3 years at East Moline Works in May 1963. He was a recording clerk in the production scheduling department.21
Joseph died at the age of 73 on December 30, 1971, at Fairhaven Nursing Home, Moline.22
5 31 Dec 1971, 21 – Quad-City Times at Newspapers.com Joseph Hoke obituary
19 18 Feb 1944, 9 – The Rock Island Argus at Newspapers.com pistol training for security guard position