VERY NICE 1902 WEST POINT DIPLOMA FOR JOHN P. TERRELL, LATER COLONEL AND DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL FOR WW1 SERVICE

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Measuring about 16.5 by 21.5 inches this 1902 West Point diploma has wonderful graphics with an eagle and USMA crest on top, draped banners and a vignette at bottom of cadets with artillery pieces on hilly terrain at bottom. This was awarded to Cadet John P. Terrell in June 1902 and recommends him to the President for promotion in the Army of the United States. Printed in black with handwritten additions, it is signed by the Superintendent, Professors and Instructors at bottom and “W.C. Rivers” (USMA Adjutant) at margin. The degree specifies the “Arts, Sciences, and Literature.” Interestingly, he apparently went back for a degree as Bachelor of Science after retirement.

Known by his friends by his West Point nickname of “T-rell,” John Preston Terrell was born on April 17, 1880 in Yonkers, New York. He entered West Point in 1898 and graduated 28th in his class in 1902. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Artillery Corps 6/12/1902 and was assigned to the field artillery at Fort Riley, transferring to the Coast Artillery in 1905. He was appointed First Lieutenant on 1/25/1907; and Captain 4/12/1911.

At the beginning of World War One he was on Corregidor in the Philippines, but was sent to France in early 1917, having been appointed Major in the Coast Artillery Corps of the “National Army,” which was the force of volunteer and conscript troops combined with the regular army for World War One service starting in 1917. (The terminology was changed in mid-1918 to “United States Army” for all, but the distinction was still observed. It was dissolved in 1920 and regular army officers still in service reverted to their former ranks.) During his World War One service he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel in May 1918, and Colonel in November 1918.

Terrell was assigned to the Second Corps as Assistant G-4 and G-4 (responsible for the logistical readiness of the units) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. and the British “Companion of St. Michael and St. George.” The DSM citation (dating 1922) reads as follows: “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Colonel (Coast Artillery Corps) John Preston Terrell, United States Army, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. As Assistant G-4, and later as G-4, 2d Army Corps, from July 1918 to January 1919, Colonel Terrell displayed exceptional ability in the administration of that division of the Corps staff. During the operations which broke the Hindenburg line between Cambrai and St. Quentin his great energy and able handling of matters of supply and transportation for the organizations of the Corps contributed in a marked degree to the success of the operations.”

He was an instructor at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth from 1919 to 1921, followed by service in the Panama Canal Zone, service at Fort Worden in Washington, and service on the War Department General Staff from 1928 to 1931. He had reverted to his regular army rank of Captain in January 1920, but was promoted to Major in July, then to Lieutenant Colonel in 1925, and to Colonel in 1930. He retired in 1932, after thirty years of service, and returned to West Point again to received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1937. He died at age 84 in California in 1965, predeceased by his wife, but survived by a daughter and two grandchildren.

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