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Military historian Slam Marshall joins the army


On this day in 1917, Samuel Lyman Atwood (Slam) Marshall joined the army. Marshall was born in New York State in 1900 but moved to El Paso with his family in 1915. He served in France as a sergeant with the Ninetieth Division. In later years he claimed that he had received a battlefield commission and was the youngest second lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces. In actuality, he was not commissioned until 1919, the year in which he returned to civilian life. Marshall began his journalistic career with the El Paso Herald in 1922 and joined the staff of the Detroit News, where he remained for most of the remainder of his life, in 1927. He reentered the army as a major in 1942 and spent the next three years as a combat historian and analyst. In 1947 he published what is probably his most influential work, Men Against Fire, in which he claimed that fewer than a quarter of American infantrymen actually fired their weapons in any given action, though professional historians later questioned his research methods. In his long career as a military commentator, Marshall wrote more than thirty books. He was appointed a brigadier general in the United States Army Reserve in 1957. He retired to El Paso in 1974 and donated his library to the University of Texas at El Paso. He died in 1977 and was buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

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