Doughboys image: the cooks of Company I

George Cunningham and Company I cooks

George F. Cunningham (with hat) of the 14th Engineers poses with Company I cooks.

I’ve written before about Pfc. George F. Cunningham, a member of Company B, 14th Engineers in France during the First World War. He was my great-uncle by marriage.

A few weekends ago at a family reunion, I met one of his direct descendants, Peggy Parker. George was her paternal grandfather. We got to talking and decided to exchange what we have on him.

I sent Peggy my inch-thick file on George from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and she sent me paperwork that wasn’t in that file – a handwritten, one-page document headed “To All Whom It May Concern” and containing discharge info. It’s dated May 6, 1919, signed by a Maj. James J. Tyson at Camp Dix, N.J.

She also sent me photos, and that’s what really caught my eye. Until I got them, I only had the one postcard shot of George. Now I have several more of him. In one he’s holding a rifle. Another shows him and other soldiers sitting on steps of a barracks.

The one I’ve posted with this blog is my favorite. It’s not clear when or where it was taken, but it shows George posing with the cooks from Company I.

The camera captured one moment in time. What was it about? A special occasion? Or  just someone who said, “Hey George, let me get a picture of all you guys together”? And who was the photographer?

All of these men in the photo have been pushing up daisies for a long, long time. I look at each face and wonder how it all turned out for that man, and that man, and that man.

Could any of them have imagined that almost a hundred years later, we’d have our eyes on them?

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