Earle D. Gregory Collection, 1915-1997 (Ms1972-004)
- 1915 - 1997
- Gregory, Earl D., 1897-1972 (Person)
Collection is open to research.
There are no restrictions.
Earle Davis Gregory was born in Clayville, Virginia on October 18, 1897. His father served as a telegrapher for the Richmond and Danville Railway, eventually transferring to Chase City, Virginia as a dispatcher in 1901. Upon completion of his freshman year, Gregory entered the Fork Union Military Academy from 1912 until the summer of 1915, when Gregory returned to Chase City and joined Company E, 2nd Regiment, Virginia Volunteers.
On October 8, 1918, Gregory's unit was committed to battle at Bois-de-Consenvoye, north of Verdun, France during the outset of the United States involvement in World War I. On his first day of battle, Sergeant Gregory's unit was halted by incessant machine gun fire by German forces. Gregory abandoned his position and charged the machine gun, destroying it with a mortar round along with single-handedly capturing a howitzer and 22 German prisoners. His actions and overall valiance earned Gregory the Congressional Medal of Honor, the only Virginian to be awarded the Medal during World War I.
Three days later, Gregory and his unit were attempting to take an enemy trench line when an artillery shell landed on his unit, wounding Gregory in his leg from shrapnel. Gregory was hospitalized for six months, partly in France before being shipped to Camp Lee, Virginia. He was discharged on April 25, 1919, and four days later Gregory was awarded the Medal of Honor at a ceremony on the Camp's parade field.
Gregory enrolled in Virginia Polytechnic Institute in September of that year. Entering under a disabled veteran's program, Gregory was accepted into the Corps of Cadets in spite of his war wound. He served as Cadet 1st Sergeant during his junior year and Cadet Captain of Company A during his senior year, in addition to being elected to class president twice and president of the student body his senior year.
Gregory was a life-long member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and a Master Mason. He died on January 6, 1972 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets renamed the "Pershing Rifles" drill team in his honor, now known as the "Gregory Guard," an elite drill and marching unit.
Language of Materials
This collection was willed to the Virginia Tech Special Collections department by Earl Gregory in 1972.
Comprising the majority of the Earl D. Gregory collection are military records and files dating back to when Gregory was a member of the 1st Virginia, 29th Regiment during World War I. This material consists of publications and correspondence pertaining to Gregory's infantry unit, more specifically Gregory's impact during his first day of combat at Bois-de-Consenvoye, France in which Gregory was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. Significant material from Gregory's affiliation with the Medal of Honor is also included, such as invitations to Gregory's ceremony and various correspondence, along with several pictures taken from the ceremony, including one photograph with Earl Gregory and President John F. Kennedy.
Also included in the Gregory collection is material from VPI where Gregory enrolled after he came back from his service in France. Most of the material is comprised of correspondence and alumni bulletins, along with some photographs taken of Gregory while he was a student and his original student transcript.
In his lifetime, Earl Gregory received several awards and recognitions. Some of the most notable awards include the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, along with a Medal of Honor plaque signed by President Lyndon Johnson, which is a replacement of Gregory's original certificate signed by President Woodrow Wilson which was destroyed in a fire. A total of eleven medals are included in the collection, along with other certificates and miscellaneous items, including a signed invitation to President Richard Nixon's inauguration.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US