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Profile of

Major John Albert Hoag, C.A.C.

2d Battalion Commander, 56th Artillery, C.A.C.


John Albert Hoag was born October 4, 1886 in the state of New York. His parents were Andrew H. and Sallie Hoag. His father Andrew Hoag was born in January of 1852 in Ireland and both of Andrew’s parents were also born in Ireland. In 1875 Andrew immigrated to the United States and by 1900 when the Federal Census was taken had been in America for 25 years. About 1880 Andrew Hoag married his wife and her name was Sallie. She was born in March of 1857 in the state of Maryland and Sallie’s father was born in England and her mother was born in Maryland.

At the time of the taking of the 1900 Federal Census in June of that year Andrew and Sallie Hoag were living in a rented home on Lincoln Street in Glen Ridge, Essex County, New Jersey. Andrew and Sallie had two children but only one was living, their son John Albert Hoag who was 13 years old at the time and was attending school. Andrew worked as a dealer in Brass Goods to support the family. Also living in the home was Mollie Andrews a 21 year-old black woman who worked as a servant. Mollie was born in July of 1878 in the state of Virginia as was both of her parents.

John Hoag attended the Columbia University in the City of New York and graduated with the class of 1909. During this time his parents Andrew and Sallie lived in a rented house in South Orange, Essex County, New Jersey where Andrew worked as a wholesale dealer of metal. Andrew’s work must have been doing quite well as according to the 1910 Federal Census they had two servants living in the home in South Orange. They were James Howard a 52 year-old white male and Maude Springer a 35 year-old white female. By the time the Census was taken on April 25th 1910 John A. Hoag must have been living back with his parents after graduating from Columbia University as he is listed as living there. He was single at the time and worked as a Civil Engineer in general practice.

At some point while working as a Civil Engineer he joined the Army and for the rest of his life made military life his way of life. The first record of his military service comes from his listing in the Army Register of Retired Officers, where he is listed as being in the 21st Company, Coast Artillery Corps on 11 April 1912. The 21st Company, C.A.C. was stationed at Fort Randolph in the Panama Canal Zone.

From The Washington Post, Sunday May 23, 1915 edition, in the section “Army and Navy Changes of the Day,” Second Lt. John A. Hoag was still in the Coast Artillery Corps now serving on staff of the Commanding Officer in the Coast Defenses of the Panama. On that day he was assigned to new duties on staff with the Commander of Fort Grant in the Panama Canal as the Material Officer.

As America was entering into World War One the Army found that its corps of officers was lacking in number to keep up with the new growth of enlisted men who would soon be inducting into the army. Also the requirements for the American Army to have a force of men who would man heavy artillery on the field of battle in France were practically non-existent. So it was to the men of the Coast Artillery Corps who were called upon to this duty. As new Coast Artillery Corps Regiments were being formed for service overseas Lt. John Hoag was so called on. His first duty during WWI was as the Regimental Adjutant of the 57th Artillery, C.AC. While with the 57th Artillery his rank, which was now Captain, served as the Regimental Adjutant from July 13-15, 1918 and also Captain Hoag was in Temporary Command of the 1st Battalion, 57th Artillery for a short time.

Above is a section of Special Order 284 GHQ, that listed Captain Hoag's promotion to Major.

Officers of the 57th Artillery. Captain, Hoag, Captain Sandberg, Captain Cecil, Captain Dupuy, and Captain Roberts.

As the 2nd Battalion of the 57th Artillery arrived at St. Pardon, France in early July 1918 Captain Hoag was also placed in temporary Command of that Battalion. By September 6, 1918 Captain Hoag was back at his duties as Regimental Adjutant, 57th Artillery. A few days after the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (26 September 1918) Captain Hoag was out scouting for new Battery positions when he found himself in one end of a town, which was still occupied by the Germans. The usually dignified Captain Hoag hurried away, according to his own story, "in high". On October 11th, 1918 as per Special Order 284 from General Headquarters A.E.F. Captain John A. Hoag was promoted to Major and assigned to the 56th Artillery Regiment as Commander of the 2d Battalion. On October 19th Captain now Major Hoag received orders for duty with the 56th Artillery and on 21st October left the 57th Artillery.

It was on November 5, 1918 Major Harry A. Skinner was relieved of Command of the 2nd Battalion, 56th Artillery and Major John A. Hoag assumed Command as per Special Order 134 HQ 56th Artillery. Seven days later as per verbal Order Commanding Officer 56th Artillery, Major John A. Hoag C.A.C. was relieved of duty as Commander of 2d Battalion, dated November 12, 1918 and Major G. S. Burkett C.A.C. assumed Command of the 2d Battalion, 56th Artillery as per Special Order 140, HQ 56th Artillery.

Above is a memo listing the 3 regiments of the 31st Brigade which were ready to fire on 12 November 1918. This list was from the 31st Brigade Headquarters located at Champy Haut, France under command of Brigadier General William C. Davis. This shows the 55th Regiment, Batteries E and F under the command of Major Nestor, the 56th Regiment, Battery C under command of Major Hoag and the 57th Regiment, Batteries A and B commanded by Major Clyne and Batteries C and D commanded by Major Braile. All the above batteries were on the line and ready to fire before 11 November 1918.

From an Army Register of retired officers on file at the University of Hawaii there is a notation that John Hoag, service number 03251 is the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and may have earned this during his service at the front while with the 57th and 56th Artillery Regiments. After the Armistice was signed and the 56th Artillery returned to the States Major Hoag stayed in France. This is known as on January 5th, 1919 the 56th Regiment boarded the cruiser USS South Dakota for transportation home at Brest, France. Major Hoag’s name is not on the passenger manifest and it was standing policy that as returning troops left for the States that Regular Army officers were left behind and National Guard officers were put in their place so they could be discharged back to civilian life. It is not clear how long Major Hoag stayed in France or what his duties were but it is known that he stayed with in the ranks of the Coast Artillery Corps after he did return to the States.

Major Hoag on October 1st 1923 was transferred into the Field Artillery branch of the Army. It is known that on July 15th 1924 he was serving with the 5th Field Artillery at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. From the section entitled “Programs On The Air Today” in the Tuesday, July 15, 1923 edition of The Washington Post, Major Hoag gave a radio address. At 8:30 P.M. that evening broadcasting on 435Mhz from Fort Bragg was a mixed program of talk, music and vocal solos in which Major John A. Hoag gave a talk on “C.M.T.C.”

While with the Field Artillery in 1925 Major Hoag attended the Field Artillery Advanced School and in 1926 he attended the Command and General Staff School. At some point while with the Field Artillery Major Hoag was stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks during the 1920’s. According to the 1930 Federal Census Major Hoag was stationed at Fort Sam Huston located in San Antonio, Texas. Major Hoag was married by then and her name was Edith P. born about 1888 in the state of New York. Together John and Edith had one son named John D. Hoag born in New York in 1920. From 1938-1940 he was commander of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Military District. In the summer of 1940 Major Hoag was given command of a Field Artillery Battalion based at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts and were deployed in Puerto Rico.

Shortly before the United States entered WWII Major Hoag was advanced to rank of Colonel on 6 August 1941 and given duties with the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. In late summer 1942 Colonel Hoag was selected as the commandant of the 1st and 5th WAAC Training Centers at Des Moines, Iowa. He would hold this command for the next seven months.

During his first months at the WAAC Training Center at Des Moines Col. Hoag was faced with some interesting disciplinary action as reported in the December 5th, 1942 edition of The Berkshire Evening Eagle, which was the newspaper from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where his previous command was. The article reads as Follows:

Col. Hoag To Decide Fate Of WAAC Who Did Strip Tease

Col. John A. Hoag, who was formerly one of the top-flight Field Artillerymen of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and head of the Pittsfield Military District from 1938 and 1940, has a new problem on his hands. As post commandant of the WAAC training Center in Des Moines, Iowa, he has to decide what to do with a former chorus girl who went AWOL and turned up as a strip-teaser in a Des Moines theatre.

The former dancer, Doris Gregory, of Fort Worth, Texas, curvaceous 22-year-old brunette who claims extensive experience in George White’s Scandals and for Earl Carroll, reported to the post November 3rd for WAAC training, went AWOL November 26th and returned November 28 right after the matinee. Military police found her in a Des Moines theatre charming a Thanksgiving audience with her dancing and disrobing, billed as Amber d’Georg of Hollywood.

Col. Hoag Comments
“She was just a girl who had no understanding of her responsibilities,” Col. Hoag told the press. “The matter will be handled inside our own group.”

Colonel Hoag came to Pittsfield as the local military district executive and instructor for the 390th Field Artillery from Hawaii in 1938. He succeeded Lt. Col. Horace Harding. In the summer of 1940, he (Col. Hoag) was relieved of his command here (Pittsfield, MA) to take a battalion of Fort Devens Field Artillery men to Puerto Rico.

Colonel Hoag found many problems in building and training the growing number of WAAC’s at Des Moines. During November 1942 as the cold and snow covered the grounds at Fort Des Moines Col. Hoag reported that the entire supply of clothing was now exhausted except for a few summer-weight underwear and the women were without proper winter clothes and sickness rates were increasing. On 3 November 1942, the newly appointed commandant, Col. Hoag, wired:

DUE TO SEVERE CLIMATIC CONDITIONS, FOLLOWING ITEMS WAAC CLOTHING URGENTLY NEEDED TO PROPERLY PROTECT AND SAFEGUARD HEALTH OF THIS COMMAND.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE SUPPLY OF THESE BY EXPEDITED!

He asked for over 15,000 each of four-buckle arctic overshoes, nurses' lambskin lined mittens, and wool-lined trousers. A few days later Col. Hoag appealed again by letter, asking for wool socks, caps, shirts, and trousers, also mittens, wool underwear, and overshoes; for drivers, he asked for flannel-lined coveralls to replace the cotton ones.

On November 14th WAAC Director Hobby called a meeting of two training center commandants; Col. Faith and Col. Hoag for a meeting with Col. Catron and Lt. Col. Tasker where in a very stormy meeting Col. Faith alleged the Services of Supply were neglecting the WAAC’s because they were not actual military personnel. The situation was soon rectified when Director Hobby called Maj. General Wilhelm D. Styer and she had a “discussion” with him about the situation.

During February of 1943 the WAAC program was greatly expanded and that some existing Prisoner of War housing, much of which is now completed and unoccupied, might be temporarily made available for the expansion. The Provost Marshal General allowed the WAAC’s to train there in Tulare, California, provided they did not modify the group toilets and showers and other masculine-type plumbing facilities, and provided they would move out on thirty days' notice if German and Italian prisoners should need the place. Here in the desert camp below sea level at Tulare, California the three scattered branches of this training center, some one hundred miles apart, made administration difficult. The buildings were bare and rough inside and out, located in desolate sandy stockades. Colonel Hoag, who was ordered to the new expansion camp from Des Moines to be commandant, said: "It was necessary to place the moving-picture theaters of Ruston `off-limits' until they were cleared of rats and other vermin…" General Marshall himself was concerned about the situation and, in a personal conference with Colonel Hoag, told him to push Special Services operations at this training center. However, the Eighth Service Command later turned down Colonel Hoag's request for these services on the grounds that it had had no instructions from the Army Service Forces. WAAC Director Hobby, upon a later visit to the Fifth WAAC Training Center, said, "I know of no finer example of patriotism by WAAC’s anywhere than that which was shown by the women who worked and trained successfully at these camps." During June of 1943 First Lady Mrs. Roosevelt visited WAAC Director Hobby and Col. Hoag at the 1st WAAC Training Center in Des Moines and reviewed the WAAC’s there.

Mrs. Roosevelt with Director Hobby and Col. John A. Hoag, commandant of First WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines.

Colonel Hoag retired from Active Service on October 31st, 1946 and returned to civilian life. On the day of his 72nd birthday, October 4, 1958 Colonel John Albert Hoag passed away. He was buried 3 days later on October 7 in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 7, Site 8069-A.


Major Hoag's Gift

In the fall of 2003 a man named Ed High was talking with a friend at a local flea market. The two discussed some of the new items they both had found when the other man told Ed he had something he had obtained recently and wondered if Ed would be interested in it. To Ed’s surprise he was shown a near mint condition Colt model 1911 Army Service Pistol. The most striking thing about the weapon was the inscription on the top of the gun and Ed made a trade for the gun as he knew that there must be a story behind the inscription. It reads:

"Sergeant Peter Proteau from Major John A. Hoag, U. S. Army"

Ed has contacted the Colt Firearms Company and they have confirmed that by the serial number this was a 1918 production piece and was shipped to the U.S. Army. There are two things that do not conform to the original 1911 Colt. First, the grips have been replaced and second, the trigger is supposed to be a long trigger, rather than the short one, which is on the gun now. The gun has not been re-blued and the lettering is crisp and shows no signs of being buffed. Ed then did a search for information on the Internet and found me. Together Ed and I have been searching for information on both Major Hoag and Sergeant Proteau. I have found much on Col. Hoag but as of yet not had good luck finding anything on Sergeant Proteau.

What we do know is that Sergeant Proteau was not in the 56th Artillery so this must have been presented after Major Hoag’s return from France. More research into this interesting story will fill in the missing parts. But for now that is what we know.

A View of the inscription. "Sergeant Peter Proteau from Major John A. Hoag, U. S. Army"
A close up of the Colt company engravings.
Left side view
Right side view

Date this page was last updated Friday, October 22, 2010 This page is owned by Joe Hartwell ©2004-2017

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