Mark C. McClanahan was born on January 9, 1890, in Morning Sun, Iowa. He was the son of James N. and Emma Slade McClanahan. Eight children were born to the couple but two died in infancy.1 His father served in Co. D, 47th Infantry Regiment, Ohio Infantry, enlisting July 16, 1861.2 He was captured July 22, 1864, at the Battle of Atlanta, Georgia. He mustered out with his company in August 1965. His father was later a blacksmith.3 McClanahan married Mary E. Barnes in Edina, Missouri, on November 15, 1930.4
McClanahan registered for the WWI draft on June 5, 1917. At that time, he was a painter at the Morning Sun Inn working for John Stewart. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 23, 1918, and was assigned to the 33rd Engineers at Camp Devins, Massachusetts, and was discharged on June 11, 1918 as a private.5 He served with 28 Co.,163 D B6 (7th Training Battalion, 163rd Depot Brigade), then transferred to Headquarters 88th Divisions at Camp Dodge, Iowa, then to a casual detachment,7 and was later discharged from Camp Devins, Massachusetts.8
When World War I started in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the United States would remain neutral. However, public opinion about neutrality started to change after the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915. This incident caused the deaths of almost 2,000 people, including 128 Americans. Along with news of the Zimmerman telegram threatening an alliance between Germany and Mexico, Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. The United States declared war on the German Empire on April 6, 1917.9
The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) arrived at the rate of 10,000 men a day on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. The United States mobilized over 4 million military personnel during the conflict and 65,000 men were killed. A ceasefire and armistice was declared on November 11, 1918.10
McClanahan registered for the WWII draft in 1942 but did not serve during World War II. He was living in Rock Island, Illinois, working for William S. Alt Company.13
In 1940, the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history began. Men between the ages of 19 and 57 were required to register with their local draft board. Conscription during this pre-war period was limited to 900,000 men at any given time for training and a conscription term of only 12 months. The term of conscription was increased to 18 months by August 1941. After the entry to the war by the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the term of mandatory service was increased to the duration of the war plus an additional 6 months. Registration requirements were changed to include men between 18 and 64 years of age. During World War II, 49 million American men were registered for the draft and 10 million were eventually drafted.14
McClanahan had spent most of his adult life as a decorator and painter for various firms in the Rock Island, Illinois, area. He was a member of the American Legion Post 200.
McClanahan died at Veterans Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa, on July 1, 1963. He was survived by his wife, Mary, a sister, Dorothy Cowan, and a brother, Fred.15