COL FREDERICK FUNSTON,
20th Kansas Volunteer Inf.
Rio Grande de la Pampanga,
Luzon, Philippine Islands,
27 April 1899.
Fredrick Funston was an educated man who kept company with the likes of entomologist Vernon Kellogg and Engineer Charles F. Scott. His academic prowess and sense of adventure lead him to serve as a special botanical agent for the Department of Agriculture and joined a trip to Death Valley, in 1891 then, in 1892; Funston made his famed Alaskan expedition, including the Yukon.
WHen General Daniel E. Sickles called for volunteers to help Cuba win her independence, Funston became a Cuban revolutionary and was commissioned as a Captain of the Artillery. In 1896 Fuston saw combat under Generals Maximo Gomez and Calixto Garcia.
He was wounded 3 on 3 separate occasions before his capture. He would have been shot as an insurgent, but he lied about his identity and swallowed his passport in small pieces.
After his return to the U.S., was declared on Spain, and Funston was asked by Governor Leedy of Kansas to command one of the three regiments being raised in Kansas. Funston accepted command of the 20th Kansas Regiment (National Guard). They arrived in Manila on November 30, 1898.
On April 27th of the following year, Col Funston secretly led a small group of men across the Rio Grande de la Pampanga on a raft. The secretly infiltrated enemy positions crippling defenses and allowing for U.S. forces to route the enemy. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers.
In December, Funston returned to the Philippines and personally led a small team of American soldiers and Macabebe Scouts in an operation to capture the well-known Filipino insurrectionist, Emilio Aguinaldo. They were successful.
At 35 yrs old, Funston was the youngest general in the army when he left active service. He didn’t relax long before again showing his steel when he became known as the Hero of the San Francisco Earthquake.
On April 16, 1906, Funston used his own authority (he had no official authority other than his name recognition) to deploy Army troops to the city. They blasted fire-breaks in the building mitigating the spread of the fire set up security to guard against looting and further destruction, and organized relief stations for the injured and homeless.
Once again, Funston was the nation’s hero.
After the earthquake, he served as Commandant of the Army Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and later as commander of the Hawaiian Department.
In 1914, Funston was serving as the military governor of Vera Cruz. He managed to preserve the peace and was promoted to the rank of Major General, then put in command of the entire Mexican border. It was Gen. Funston who sent Gen. Pershing’s troops in pursuit of Pancho Villa.
Gen. Funston died at the age of 51 on February 19, 1917
According to Newton Baker, the Secretary of War at the time, “had Funston lived, he undoubtedly would have commanded the American Expeditionary Force in Europe” in World War I only months after Funston’s death.