WWI: Sergeant 1st Class Clarence R. Runk, U.S. Army
Posted On: 04/06/2017 - 12:37pm, Posted By: David Conzett, Curator of History Objects & Fine Art
April 6, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I. Every other Wednesday, we will present items from our collections that highlight life in Cincinnati, around the nation and from the battlefields during the war
The son of Stacy and Pearl Runk, Clarence R. Runk was born in Cleves, Ohio in 1897. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Ft. Thomas, Kentucky on June 30, 1918. Following his basic training, Runk was assigned as an ambulance driver with the U.S. Army 522 Motor Transportation Corps (MTC) and joined the Allied Expeditionary Force in France.
The Motor Transport Corps was formed out of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps on August 15, 1918. Many of the mechanics and skilled tradesman needed to fill the ranks of the mechanized Transportation Corps were recruited from the U.S. automobile industry. The U.S. Army Ambulance Service, working with the Motor Transportation Corps, was assigned the herculean task of quickly retrieving, treating and transporting wounded soldiers from the battlefield to aid stations and hospitals in the rear. Using the recovery and medical triage techniques pioneered by Dr. Johnathan Letterman during the American Civil War, the U.S. Ambulance Service saved the lives of more soldiers in World War One than in any previous conflict.
The U.S. Ambulance Service benefitted from motorized vehicles and trained medical personnel, not available in earlier wars. Although the automobile was still in its infancy, the Ford Model ‘T’ truck provided invaluable service throughout the war. The Model “T” could operate in the rugged terrain of the battlefield, climb mountains and, because of its high clearance, easily ford deep streams.
Clarence Runk attained the rank of Sergeant 1st Class and was discharged from the army on July 29, 1919. He returned to Cincinnati, married, raised a family and worked as an officer with the Pierson Lumber Company. Clarence Runk died in 1970.
Sergeant 1st Class Clarence R. Runk’s U.S. Army Model 1917 uniform, helmet, equipment and M1911 Automatic Pistol are part of the Cincinnati Museum’s Center’s permanent collection.