By Peter Becker
HAWLEY- Wayne County, Pennsylvania may be unusual in its military heritage. Within this rural county, no less than five of its native sons became generals. One of them was a native of Hawley, Major General James William McAndrew.
Born in a house on Highland Avenue during the American Civil War, he would go on to serve during the World War- the 1st World War as it turned out- as Chief of Staff to General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces.
McAndrew served as Commandant of the Army War College and led a distinguished, nearly 40 year career serving the United States Armed Forces.
This was the same family highlighted in a recent story in this series, concerning the General’s brother, Col. Patrick Henry McAndrew, who was a career Army surgeon.
The McAndrews were one of many Irish immigrant families who made their mark in Hawley. Depending on what part of Ireland they heralded, some settled in the mid-19th Century in the Shanty Hill neighborhood- later called Marble Hill, lined by the Middle Creek and crossed by Columbus Avenue. Others, including the parents of the subject of this sketch, set down roots in East Hawley. They came largely for the abundant labor provided by the Pennsylvania Coal Company Gravity Railroad and the Delaware & Hudson Canal, which intersected in this growing village.
James was born June 29, 1862 to John Richard and Eliza (Kane) McAndrew; his father worked in the Pennsylvania Coal Company offices at Hawley. After attending the local schools, James went to St. Francis Xavier College in New York City. He graduated from West Point in 1888, the 12th in his class and the rank of 2nd lieutenant.
A year later, McAndrew was married to Nellie Elizabeth Roche, in her hometown of Scranton, on Nov. 26, 1889. They had one child, Mary Aloysiz McAndrew, who died Jan. 19, 1908.
Assigned to the 21st Infantry on the day of his graduation, he was sent west, participating in the Sioux Indian Campaign of 1890-91. Three years later he was promoted to 1st lieutenant and assigned to the 3rd Infantry. He served in the Spanish American War in the battle at El Caney and in the Santiago Campaign. American expansionism followed the war, and he was sent to the Philippines in 1899. Promoted to captain, McAndrew was there during an insurrection.
He was instructor at the Army Service Schools in 1909-12, becoming major in 1911. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1916, served on the general staff and became commandant of the Army Service Schools. With the outbreak of the World War, he was promoted to colonel and assigned to the 18th Infantry. This took him to France with the American expeditionary forces.
In 1917 he was promoted to brigadier general, and commanded the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division. In France, he aided in the organization of the 1st Corps Schools. He was promoted to Major General in 1918. Following this, he was serving in Washington, D.C. as commandant of what became the Army War College.
His rank of major general was earned March 5, 1921, with the Regular Army.
General John Joseph Pershing was General of the Armies and commanded the American expeditionary forces in the Great War. He Chief of Staff, McAndrew worked right alongside Pershing. General Pershing expressed his deep appreciation to him in his final report of the war effort.
On May 1, 1922, General McAndrew died, at the Walter Reed Hospital, following an illness of 2-1/2 years. General Pershing was at his bedside when he died, along with McAndrew’s wife and two of his sisters, and Col. J.B. Gowen, executive officer of the Washington barracks.
The Hawley son was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. His wife died Dec. 21, 1946 and was laid to rest next to him, and their daughter. Under orders of the War Department, all troops in the vicinity of Washington participated in the funeral. General Pershing and senior officers stationed in Washington served as Honorary Pallbearers.
General Pershing awarded General McAndrew with the Distinguished Service Medal. Pershing's citation read in part, "For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services as chief of staff for the American expeditionary services in France..."
In 1927, Hawley celebrated its centennial. As part of the festivities, a plaque was dedicated on August 17 in honor of General McAndrew, in front of his childhood home on Highland Avenue. The American Legion conducted a parade with many visiting posts and military officials. Among them was Major General Drum of Fort Wadsworth, NY, who assisted in unveiling the bronze plaque. A detail from the Tobyhanna Army barracks served as an escort to the home. Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Arthur James gave an address. Fireworks followed in the evening, with a "Forty and Eight" parade.
General McAndrew was in his fifties when the World War broke out. He may never have known the young doughboys from his hometown who were serving in the war with Germany. An honor roll lists 37 men from Hawley and vicinity who served in World War I. In that war, those who were killed in action from Hawley included George A. Kelch, William Sheridan, Curtis J. Wilson, Robert Eckweiler and Reginald Kuhn. All were privates. A direct legacy at home of the war was the formation in 1919 of American Legion Post 311.
As mentioned, General McAndrew is one of five generals from Wayne County. The others are General Edgar B. Jadwin (1865-1931); General Richard J. Tallman (1925-1972), General Lyman L. Lemnitzer (1899-1988) and General Daniel J. O’Neill, born in 1937 and who lives near Honesdale.