Gentry, Herman D.

Herman Gentry was born on 20 March 1896 in Gurley, Madison County, Alabama. He was the son of John Morgan Gentry and Cynthis Anna Echols Gentry. He is described as being tall, slender with blue eyes and brown hair. When he enlisted at the age of 21, he was employed as a cotton mill worker at the Dallas Mill in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1917, Private Gentry was assigned to Company C, 167th Infantry, 42nd Infantry Division in France. The 42nd Infantry Division came to be known as the "Rainbow Division". When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, it federalized National Guard divisions to quickly build up an Army. In addition, Douglas MacArthur, then a major, suggested to William A. Mann, the head of the Militia Bureau, that he form another division from the non-divisional units of several states. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker approved the proposal, and recalled Douglas MacArthur saying that such an organization would "stretch over the whole country like a rainbow."[3] The division was created using units from 26 states and the District of Columbia. The name stuck, and MacArthur was promoted to colonel as the division chief of staff. The 42nd Division was activated in August 1917, four months after the U.S. Entry into World War I, drawing men from 26 U.S. States and the District of Columbia. The 42nd went overseas to the Western Front of Belgium and France in November 1917, one of the first divisions of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to do so. The AEF was commanded by General John Joseph Pershing. Upon arrival there the 42nd Division began intensive training with the British and French armies in learning the basics of trench warfare which had, for the past three years, dominated strategy on the Western Front, with neither side advancing much further than they had in 1914. After reaching France the 167th (Alabama), like all of the 42nd Division, was twinned with French units in the Lunéville sector of Lorraine in February, 1918. The “Rainbow” was the third US Division to reach France. Engaging the Germans in trenches, on raids and in patrol action in Lorraine quickly brought it to veteran status in the eyes of anxious French, American and German observers. During a German attack on 5 March 1918, preceeded by heavy shell fire, Private Gentry showed courageous  devotioin to duty by remaining at his post. He died 11 March 1918 of wounds received in that battle. For his gallantry in action, Private Herman Gentry was awarded the Disinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest medal for valor. Private Herman Gentry'd body was returned to the US on 1 May 1921 and buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Number 2702 in Huntsville, Alabama was chartered on June 5, 1945 and is named the Gentry-Isom Post. Private Gentry was the first Madison County soldier killed in World War I and Seaman First Class Luther Isom was the first killed in World War II, also from Madison County, Alabama.