John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948) Lincoln, Nebraska
John J. Pershing, born in Missouri in 1860, had made a warm place for himself in the hearts of Lincolnites and Nebraskans and generally considered Lincoln his home. He kept a house in Lincoln where he planned to retire, and although he never returned to his retirement home, his sisters lived there and made a home for his son, Warren. Pershing's wife and three daughters had perished in a fire at "The Presidio" in 1915.
After graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Pershing was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 6th Cavalry in New Mexico where he fought in the Apache wars.
He came to Lincoln in 1891 and became a cadet instructor at the University of Nebraska. It was here that Pershing started the drill teams which grew into a national organization known as "Pershing Rifles."
After his promotion to first lieutenant, Pershing was assigned to the 10th Cavalry and sent to Fort Assiniboine, Montana. After leading a Negro unit in a clash with Cree Indians, he received his nickname, "Black Jack Pershing." Pershing was also with the 10th Cavalry in the Spanish American War and in 1898 fought in the famous Battle of San Juan Hill.
Many assignments and campaigns followed before his appointment in 1917 to command the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe when the United States entered World War I. Pershing's firm stand in a disagreement with other allied commanders led to the United States Army's fighting as an independent army under its own officers, rather than as mere replacements for British and French armies. At the end of the war, Pershing wanted to march into Berlin, but other allied commanders voted against it.
In 1919, by act of Congress, Pershing was made General of the Armies of the United States, and later, in 1921, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Lincoln and Nebraska have never forgotten John J. Pershing. Pershing Armory, Pershing Elementary School, Pershing Road and Pershing Municipal Auditorium, all in Lincoln, were named in his honor. Pershing was named to the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1963.