Courtesy of the United States Military Academy
Born in San Francisco in 1875, Robert Halford Peck came to the United States Military Academy after working for a coffee and tea company and teaching school in California.
After graduation from West Point in 1899, he joined the 10th Infantry and was stationed in Cuba and then the Philippines. He married the following year, but his wife died in Kansas in 1902.
He then graduated with high honors from the Infantry and Cavalry School and the Staff College and was sent back to the Philippines. Peck married his second wife, Mabel Steele of New York, and they had five children.
He was stationed in Hawaii when the U.S. entered World War I and was sent back to the States en route to Europe. He deployed to France in 1918 with the 47th Infantry and also was attached to the 33rd Division (French) from 1918 to 1920. Peck received a Croix de Guerre that included an Army citation for his performance. A soldier assigned to Peck’s unit described an incident when Peck was preparing to attack just as the armistice was to go into effect. A German soldier discerned that Peck was planning to attack, so he raised a white flag and came forward to tell Peck of the armistice. Peck said with great disappointment, “Then that spoils all my schemes.”
Peck’s soldiers felt so strongly about his leadership and disregard for his own safety in battle that they wrote him a note telling him they felt prepared to fight. Promoted temporarily to the rank of Brigadier General, Peck was recommended for the Belgian War Cross and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal.
General Peck retired in 1928 for physical disability. Upon retirement, the Prudential Life Insurance Company and the Oberdorfer Insurance Agency employed him. He became interested in genealogy and stamp collecting during his retirement and also started editing a newspaper column on genealogical research thatbrought him acclaim.
General Peck died on 5 Mar 1932 at the age of 57 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Robert Halford Peck of Calironia
Appointed from California, Cadet, U. S. Military Academy, 15 June 1895 (33)
Second Lieutenant, 10th U. S. Infantry, 15 June 1895
First Lieutenant, 24th U. S. Infantry, 13 August 1900
PECK, ROBERT H.
Colonel, U.S. Army
Home: San Diego, California
11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: November 6 – 8, 1918
General Orders No. No. 143, W.D., 1918
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Robert H. Peck, Colonel, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Liny-Devant-Dun, Fontaine, and Brandeville, France, November 6 – 8, 1918.
Throughout the successive attacks on Liny-Devant-Dun, Cote 292, Bois du Chenois, Fontaines, Murvaux, Bois du Corrai, and Bois-de-Brandeville, Colonel Peck exhibited conspicuous gallantry, stimulating his command to a high state of enthusiasm and creating a superb morale.
Placing himself in front of the leading waves, he personally led his men to the assault. Accompanied by nine men, he attacked a battery of enemy artillery near La Maisonette Farm, forcing the abandonment and subsequent capture of the battery. Under his skillful leadership his regiment captured numerous prisoners, six pieces of artillery, three antiaircraft guns, 150 machine-guns, and vast quantities of ammunition and supplies.
PECK, ROBERT H
- COL USA RET CALIF
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/05/1932
- BURIED AT: SECTION 7 SITE 9909
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard