Stanley Copeland was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on November 10, 1887, to his father Marrion and his mother Ella (nee Benjamin).1 By 1917, Copeland was living Tampa, Florida, where he worked as a laborer for the Standard Oil Company and used his earnings to support his mother.2 He was drafted into the military in Tampa on May 17, 1918.3
Copeland served first in the Machine Gun Company of the 802nd Pioneer Infantry until August 1, 1918, and then switched to the Supply Company of the same unit until his honorable discharge on July 19, 1919.4 Pioneer Infantry Regiments were an essential part of the war effort.5 Men of Pioneer Infantry units were also a part of service units; however, they primarily built bridges and roads and maintained railroads right behind the front lines. Copeland trained with the 802nd Pioneer Infantry in Camp Sherman, Ohio, until the unit departed for France during the last week of August 1918, as reported here in a black newspaper.6 After arriving on September 1st, the 802nd joined the rest of the First Army in its Campaign to support the Allied forces, although details of Copeland’s units activities are unclear during this time, the article heralding his unit’s return gives a summary.7 His unit was credited with serving in the Meuse-Argonne offensive so he likely served in this critical last battle of the war. 8
After the Armistice, Copeland and his comrades were assigned to salvage and road repair and continued to perform this hard labor under the supervision of their white officers until returning to the United States on July 9, 1919, this picture of Co. G of the 802nd’s shows this divide as the few white officers stand before dozens of black soldiers.9
Copeland achieved the rank of Private First Class by the time of his discharge.10 After his discharge, Copeland returned to Tampa and remained there for at least the next five years.11 He was working as a driver in 1924, and sometime in the next ten years returned to his home town of Jacksonville.12 He died there of kidney failure on May 14, 1934 and was buried in the St. Augustine National Cemetery twelve days later in Section A, Plot 39.13
1 WWI Registration Cards - Stanley Copeland, Database, Fold3, https://www.fold3.com/image/548539632?terms=Stanley%20Copeland%20Tampa
Florida Deaths, 1877-1939, Database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FPSL-WHW : 9 March 2018), Stanley Copeland, 14 May 1934; citing Jacksonville, Duval, Florida, reference cn 7997; FHL microfilm 2,135,593.
2 WWI Registration Cards - Stanley Copeland.
3 See footnote 1.
5 Missouri Historical Society. "Missouri Historical Society | Find Yourself Here." The Missouri Historical Society. accessed August 01, 2018, http://mohistory.org/blog/wwi-artifacts-and-memories-the-805th-pioneer-infantry-bearcats; Paul Southworth Bliss, Victory: History of the 805th Pioneer Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces (St. Paul, MN: The Infantry, 1919), available on Archive.Org, accessed Sept. 30, 2018, https://archive.org/details/victoryhistoryt00blisgoog/page/n8.
6 New York Age, September 14, 1918 - Camp Sherman News, Database, Newspapers
7 WWI Service Cards - Stanley Copeland;
Evening World July 9, 1919 - Troopship Nansemond Brings 5,252 Happy Men, Database, Newspapers, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/1166834/802nd_pioneer_infantry/.
8 US War Department, Battle Participation of Organizations of the American Expeditionary Forces (Washington, D.C.:Government Printing Office, 1920), 49.
9 WWI Service Cards - Stanley Copeland.
11 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, Database. Ancestry.com, Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
13 Florida Deaths, 1877-1939;
Stanley Copeland in U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962, Database, Ancestry.com. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
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