Silver Tailings: Washoe Goes to War


The U.S. didn’t join the war effort immediately when fighting broke out in 1914. However, President Woodrow Wilson asked each state to send their National Guard for service on the Mexican border in 1916.

Since Nevada’s state guard had disbanded in 1906, the only military organizations available were the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit at the University of Nevada, Reno and nine Government Civilian Rifle Clubs. Nevada’s Governor, Emmet Boyle offered 600 volunteers, but it was declined.

Eventually, Congress declared war, April 6th, 1917.

The Selective Service Act of 1917 required all men between the ages of 21 to 31 to register for the draft by  June 5th, 1917.  Each man received a number when he registered.

On July 20, 1917, numbers were drawn to decide who would actually be called up to serve.  The first 202 Washoe County names drawn would have to appear for processing.

The first number pulled was 258, assigned to Walter Bennett; the last was 223 for John Cassinelli.   The next 202 numbers called were drawn in case Nevada did not meet its quota of men, including the last number of 1101 held by Joe Ochander.

Over 30-thousand men registered, of these, 3,211 were inducted. Another 2,324 men volunteered for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, totaling 5,535.

Fifty men from Washoe County died; 25 to disease; 10 in action; five from accidents; four from wounds, with the remaining six listing no reason. Finally, 18 of these death, happened in the U.S., not overseas.

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