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 315th Engineer Bn - Memorials and Tributes
 Col. Jarvis Bain
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Posted - 04/22/2016 :  20:58:39  Show Profile
Colonel Bain was born in Martinsville, Indiana, on May 2, 1880, of Army heritage; he was the son of James Gallagher Bain, a Second Lieutenant, 33rd Indiana Volunteers, Civil War; and his grandfather, Dr. Jarvis Jackson Johnson, served through the Civil War as Major and Surgeon, 27th Indiana Volunteers.

Jarvis Bain was graduated from the High School, Martinsville, Indiana, and immediately enlisted and served as Private in Company K, 158th Indiana Volunteers, in the Spanish American War. Upon his return from service, even before entering West Point in 1901, he displayed a marked ability to solve mathematical problems. It was not surprising to his classmates, therefore, that Dick stood five in his class during his first year at West Point, and seven in a class of 114 at graduation, which practically assured his assignment to the Corps of Engineers, where he served until he was relieved from active duty in March, 1944.

Dick held many important assignments. One of the highlights of his service between West Point and World War I was at Fort Mason in San Francisco, where his duty during and after the great earthquake and fire in April, 1906, included tne establishment of camps in the vicinity of Fort Mason where many thousands of refugees made homeless by the disaster were sheltered and fed for many months.

Another early assignment took Dick to the Island of Corregidor, where with Company H, Second Battalion of Engineers, a detachment of Coast Artillery, a battalion of Regular Infantry, and a thousand Filipino Bilibid convicts, he had responsible charge of the construction of the electric railway from Ocean Wharf up to the top of the mountain, which constituted the principal part of the Island.

Upon return to the United States in 1912, he was relieved from duty with troops and assigned as Assistant to the District Engineer at Washington, D.C., in charge of improvements of the Potomac River and the lower Chesapeake Bay and their tributaries. He assisted in the preparation of a comprehensive project to increase the water supply and furnish all Governmental electricity for the District of Columbia, by construction of a high dam at the Falls of the Potomac downstream from the Great Falls Dam.

During World War I, Dick served as Colonel, 309th Engineers, 84th Division; Colonel of the 315th Engineers, 90th Division; and Chief Engineer, VII Army Corps. After his arrival in Europe he took part in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign with one offensive action and three defensive actions, and the march into and occupation of Germany.

Shortly after his return to the United States he went to the School of the Line, the General Staff School, and then to the War College, from which he graduated in 1923. This was followed by a four-year tour of duty in the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff, Washington, D. C.

In April, 1927, he was assigned the duties of the improvement of the Upper Ohio, with station in Pittsburgh until August, 1931. In addition, he was a Member of the Mississippi River Commission in 1929 and 1930, and served four years on the faculty of the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In April, 1938, he became a member of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors and continued on that duty until 1941. He also became Division Engineer, South Atlantic Division. While Division Engineer he supervised the construction of the National Airport at Gravelly Point in Virginia, opposite the City of Washington, D. C.

In May, 1941, Dick took station at Memphis, Tennessee, with General Ben Lear’s Second Army as Army Engineer, and the outstanding events of that service were the maneuvers in Tennessee and in Arkansas and Louisiana. From December, 1941, until he was relieved therefrom and ordered to inactive duty, he was United States District Engineer for the Memphis District. Due to World War II, his duties were stepped up to include supervision of the completion of the Army General Depot at Memphis; construction of the Kennedy General Hospital and the principal building of the Second Army Headquarters at the Fairgrounds at Memphis, and the construction, expansion, and modification of six airports in four Southern States. Numerous auxiliary air fields were built in connection with these airports.

In recognition of his extraordinary fidelity and exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, he was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1943 by Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War. His citation for the award states in part that his service “has been marked by unusual force, devotion to duty, and a rare capacity for leadership.’’

Soon after graduation, on December 25, 1905, he was married in San Francisco to Miss Edith Ralston of Indiana, who died in 1955. Their children are Colonel James G. Bain of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mrs. Joan Bain Nicodemus of Tucson, Arizona. He is survived by his second wife, Mrs. Lillian Wall Bain; his two children; his sister, Mrs. E. F. Branch of Martinsville, Indiana; his brother Ralph W. Bain of Winter Park, Florida; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held in the Fort Myer Chapel and he was buried with full military honors, with classmates, relatives, and friends present.

Although he was not very well these last few years, he was cheerful and happy, and his devotion to his family, his classmates, and his colleagues did not weaken in the slightest. In the last few’ months of his life he not only attended the Bain family reunion in Indiana and the reunion of the 309th Regiment of Engineers which he commanded in World War I, but at the cost of untold effort and stamina on his part, he attended the 55th Reunion of the Class of 1905 last June at West Point. Though he was under the constant care of the medicos there, he participated in all the activities and no one enjoyed the reunion any more than did Dick Bain—a gallant officer and gentleman clear to the end.

—Norman F. Ramsey

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