In public ceremonies in Kirksville on November 22, 1919, Ben Turner was presented the Distinguished Service Cross which had been awarded to him for “extraordinary heroism in action at Fismette, France, August 27, 1918.  When the enemy attack preceded by a very heavy barrage that had broken through and forced a retirement over the Vesle, lieutenant Turner, himself wounded and under enemy fire from front and flanks, directed the retirement of his men while he alone covered their withdrawal, over the river, with an automatic rifle, crossing after the last man was safely over.

Lieutenant Turner enlisted in Company C, 139th Infantry, as a private.  He went with the company from Kirksville to Camp Doniphan.  He attended officers’ training camp there, but went overseas with the company as a sergeant.  He was commissioned second lieutenant in June, 1918, and was transferred to the 28-th Division.  He was the first American officer to enter Fismette and was wounded in the battle at that place and again in the Argonne.  He was promoted to a first lieutenancy before leaving France and was twice recommended for further promotion.1

  1. P. O. Selby, Adair County’s War Record: From Pioneer Days to and Including 1942 (Kirksville, Missouri:MacDougall-Lowe Post No. 20).