One-hundred years ago, a young buck private named Andrew A. Capets entered the battlefield of the epic Meuse-Argonne Offensive under the command of Captain John Kean. A century later, the son of John Kean meets the grandson of Andrew A. Capets on the anniversary of the beginning of that battle. Both men both bear the namesake of their respective ancestor.
John Kean Jr. showing the uniform worn by his his father, Captain John Kean, to Andrew J. Capets, grandson of Andrew A. Capets
Liberty Hall Museum, located at Kean University in New Jersey, is currently running a World War I exhibit entitled ‘Brothers-in-Arms’ that tells the story of the two brothers, John Kean and Robert W. Kean, who both took part in the frontline fighting of the Great War. Captain John Kean was the Company Commander of C Company, 313th Machine Gun Battalion, 80th Division. Private Capets spent his entire enlistment as a machine gunner in the ranks of Company C.
Uniform of Captain John Kean, 313th Machine Gun Battalion, 80th Division (Ribbons: Mexican War Service, WWI Victory, Purple Heart).
September 26, 2018 marked the centennial anniversary of the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, considered to be the largest and bloodiest battle in American history, where more than one million American soldiers took part, with over 26,000 American soldiers killed, and over 95,000 wounded. Captain John Kean can be counted among the soldiers wounded in action as he was taken off the battlefield just nine days into the fighting. Kean was wounded when an artillery shell burst near him as a machine gun cart was being unloaded. A piece of shrapnel penetrated his shoulder, breaking his clavicle, and embedding itself requiring a surgeon to have to remove the piece of iron in a evacuation hospital.
Letter written by Captain John Kean to his father describing the injury and drawing the size of the shrapnel (Liberty Hall Museum).
Private Andrew A. Capets continued in the fight until his machine gun battalion was relieved by another supporting division on November 8, 1918, with the battle eventually ending with the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. The grandson of Private Capets, Andrew J. Capets, was invited to participate in Liberty Hall Museum’s lecture series to discuss his book, Good War, Great Men, that features the writings of Captain John Kean along with the detailed accounts of more than a dozen soldiers who served with Kean in the 313th Machine Gun Battalion.
Photo of Captain John Kean located in the foyer of Liberty Hall Museum, Union, New Jersey.
The lecture series, funded by a grant from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, will feature two more World War I historians in the coming months before the ‘Brothers-in-Arms’ exhibition comes to a close on November 15, 2018.
More information about the Liberty Hall Museum exhibit and lectures can be found here:
Brothers in Arms: Memories of the Great War exhibit running until November 15, 1918.
World War I Lecture - Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and World War I on October 25, 1918.