Dedication Of Kirby Pelot Stewart Post 24
Kirby Pelot Stewart was born in Lake City, Florida, September 1, 1891. When U.S. troops were ordered to the Mexican border, he enlisted as a private in the Florida National Guard, 2nd Infantry. While on duty on the Border, he was promoted to Sergeant. When the United States entered the war with Germany, he was appointed to the First Officers Training Camp at Fort McPherson, Georgia, and after training, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army on August 13, 1917. Assigned to the 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Division, at Camp Gordon, Georgia, he went overseas with his regiment in May of 1918, and was sent to the front in the last week of June. Later that summer Lieutenant Stewart was cited for bravery and recommended for promotion for gallantry under fire.
In the St. Mihiel Offensive when the 328th Infantry went into action the 2nd Battalion was the first ordered forward and the 3rd Platoon, Company G, led by Lieutenant Stewart was in the lead. In three hours they reached their objective which was to have taken three days. He was killed on the morning of October 8, 1918, while leading the attack, during which he had been twice wounded, near Chateau Thierry west of Hill 223. For gallantry in action, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously.
After the war ended, Sergeant Alvin C. York, the most celebrated American hero of World War I, visited Lieutenant Stewart's mother in Bradenton, Florida. Recalling that Lieutenant Stewart's unit was called, "The Hillbillies," Sergeant York said that Lieutenant Stewart always told his men that he was a Florida "Cracker," but that, 'We are all Americans." On the day he was killed Lieutenant Stewart volunteered for the mission, pleading with his superior officers that he was best fitted and that he was single with no dependents at home. As his superiors had full confidence in him because of past performance while under fire, his request was granted.
The objective was blocked by a German machine-gun nest in heavy underbrush, and to allow his men to reach it, Lieutenant Stewart had to cross a patch of open ground. This became his finest hour, as he drew enemy fire without any mental reservation whatsoever, in an attempt to protect the lives of his men and attain his objective. His death occurred as he threw a hand grenade into the German machine-gun position.
Sergeant York stated that it was Lieutenant Stewart who had made it possible for him to become a great hero, for it was that same band of one hundred thirty German soldiers against which Lieutenant Stewart led the advance, which he, Sergeant York captured that day in October of 1918.
Let us always be mindful of the fact that our Creator moves in many strange and wondrous ways, for in Him we live, move and have our being. We therefore, the living comrades of Kirby Pelot Stewart Post 24, The American Legion of Bradenton, Florida, commend his spirit to God who gave it, and our hearts shall always cherish his memory.