Tuesday, October 16, 2018

1LT John Lyon

John Lyon's 1915 passport photo
1LT John Lyon was born 2 Apr 1893 in Ballston, Virginia.  He was the 2nd of 3 children and only son born to Frank and Georgie Hays (Wright) Lyon.  John's father was a lawyer and real estate speculator/developer.  He had worked for the Southern Railroad Company, as personal secretary for a commissioner of the Interstate Commerce commission. He was a stenographer for the Constitutional Convention of Virginia. He founded the real estate firm of Lyon and Fitch, Inc. (later Lyon Properties and Lyon Inc.) and developed land in Arlington County including Lyon Park.

John attended Western High School, the University of Virginia and Georgetown Law School. He also worked as an associate editor for Field and Stream magazine. John applied in 1915 for his passport so that he could go to Great Britain and "do hospital work" but drove ambulances for the Red Cross in France.

After 6 months in France he returned to the U.S. and joined a local National Guard unit and served in the Mexican Border service.  It is likely that he was the most combat experienced of any in his company. He was still a member of the unit when it was federalized in 1917 and then assigned to Machine Gun Company 116th Infantry.  After participating in the training at Camp McClellan, Alabama he traveled with the unit aboard the USS Finland to France.  The ship docked at the port of Saint Nazaire on 28 Jun 1918. After the unit went through the trench warfare training and a period of  acclimatization in a "quiet" sector on the front lines it was part of a major offensive in the vicinity of Verdun. On 16 Oct 1918 the unit was involved in fighting when the commander of the 3rd Battalion, MAJ Heriome Opie was wounded. 1LT Lyon was killed in action when he tried to help MAJ Opie. 

1LT Lyon was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1919. This is the citation:
John Lyon, first lieutenant, Machine Gun Company, 116th Infantry, Twenty-ninth division. For extraordinary heroism in action near Damogneux, France, October 15, 1918. During the attack on the Bois De La Grande Monagne, Lieut. Lyon left a place of comparative safety to cross an open space, exposed to direct observation and fire from the enemy, to attempt the rescue of a wounded officer. He and the two men who accompanied him were killed in this attempt.
He was repatriated and re-interred in the Blanford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.

Grandfather, John Lyon, was CPT of B Company 12th Virginia Infantry 1861-1862.

- Remembering Arlington's John Lyon 
- John Lyon VFW Post 3150

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