BG Hierome Lindsay Opie
Commander - 1933-1940
Born ca.1881, Died February 26, 1943

Enlisted in the Staunton National Guard Company in 1899.  Participated in the Mexican Border campaign of 1916, served as commander of 3d Battalion 116th Infantry in World War I, and commanded the Brigade for many years.  He was instrumental in reorganizing the Virginia National Guard after the Great War.  BG Opie was wounded and won the Distinguished Service Medal, Virginia Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre with two palms.

He established the Staunton Evening Leader in 1904 and was owner, editor and publisher.  He purchased the Staunton Daily News in 1919 the beginnings of today's Staunton Daily News-Leader.

At Molleville Farm, on October 15, 1918

...Major Hierome L Opie, commander of the 3rd Bn., 116th Inf., recognized the developing emergency. He ordered up his battalion headquarters company, complete with all it runners, scouts, signalmen, volunteers from the Sanitary Detachment and the crews from the Stokes Mortar Co. and formed them into a skirmish line. They advanced toward the Montagne Woods opposite the Molleville farm clearing in a series of short rushes with out firing - the men armed primarily with pistols. 

     As the HQ group closed within 200 yards of the woods where Co. K and Co. L were holding, they began to receive oblique fire from enemy guns on the left of the Montagne Woods, south of the cross roads. Major Opie wheeled the line and drove straight into the source of the fire - the woods on the left of the farm. The enemy, believing they were facing a heavy attack under cover of the fog, hastily withdrew. 

     The 3rd Bn. Headquarters was completely shattered. The attack became a "every man for himself" race as merciless machine-gun, sniper and mortar fire began to pour in. Battalion Adjutant Beverly C. Wilks was the only remaining unwounded officer with Maj. Opie's unit (Opie had been painfully wounded with several fingers shot away). Wilks was ordered to make a dash for help. 

     The men of the Headquarters Co. were packed into the ditch along the road bordering the woods, intermixed with the dead and wounded. Men escaped with their lives by being buried beneath the bodies of the comrades. 

     Major Opie finally made his way across the front to a sheltered area where men from Co. I and Co. K were fighting under the command of Lt. Stone. Maj. Opie and Lt. Stone gathered 16 to 18 men and drove into the woods across the face of the embattled HQ Co. They cleared the enemy from the woods and routed the machine gun nests, saving the remainder of the HQ. Co. Major Opie was later awarded the Distinguished Cross, the French Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor for his action. 

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Courtesy of the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc.
Last Updated November 13, 2001
Copyright 2001