Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Man Leaves His Own Wedding to Take the Place in Leavenworth Prison of Man Who Saved His Life in France, 1921

From the High Point Review, December 22, 1921

A story of personal sacrifice, unique in annals of the World war, is that of Harry W. Haley, who served in Leavenworth prison to repay a war-time buddy for his life. Haley has written the American Legion the first account of his action.

Wounded and left in no man’s land, Haley, a Canadian solider, was slowly dying from loss of blood when he was picked up by Private Thomas G. Jones, an American. After taking his buddy to safety, Jones Disappeared. Back in the line again, Haley was captured by the Germans and lost all trace of his rescuer.

On May 20, 1921, Haley arrived at the home of his sweetheart in Canada. The wedding was to occur at 8 o’clock and the guests were assembled.

Then Private Jones reappeared. He had deserted the army at Fort Slocum, N.Y., because, he said, they were going to send him back to Germany. He was suffering from mustard gas burns and had a wife and two children dependent upon him.

Haley acted quickly. Telling Jones to return to his wife and keep quiet, he informed his fiancée of his intention. She declined to wait while he served the term Jones would have to spend in prison. At the hour of the wedding Haley took a train for St. Paul, Minn. He gave himself to the first police officer he encountered, declaring he was Private Thomas G. Jones, wanted for desertion.

Tried by court-martial at Fort Crook, Neb., Haley was sentenced to dishonorable discharge and six months in prison. He had served all but 18 days of his sentence when authorities, by checking fingerprints and identification learned of the substitution. The Legion is petitioning President Harding to purge the dishonorable discharge from Haley’s record.

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