William Elwood Boone (1890-1937)

William Elwood Boone
William Elwood Boone, c. 1917. Image courtesy of Sargent Memorial Collection, Slover Library, Norfolk, VA. SMC-MSS-000-182-ind-c-022.

William Elwood Boone was a United States soldier who fought on behalf of this nation in World War I. He was born on September 21, 1890 in  Norfolk, Virginia to a Mary Hollow and Luke Washington Boone. This African American soldier, known as “Willie” before his professional military service, attended public school in Norfolk and worked as a longshoreman prior to enlisting.

He enlisted in the Army on July 30, 1918 and served with Company 35, 9 B.N., 154 D.B. He completed his training at Camp Meade, Maryland and was transferred to 701 En. Stu Bn. on September 21, 1918, which later became the 861st Transportation Company. He embarked from Newport News, VA on the USS Mercury to Brest, France on October 13, 1918, and went Marseilles, France on November 5, 1918. He transferred to 862nd the Transportation Company on February 25, 1919. He finally arrived home from his overseas service on June 30, 1919. He was discharged with the rank of private at Camp Lee, VA on July 07, 1919.

After being discharged, he married Hattie Boone and they relocated to North Carolina. Mr. Boone never voted, as he still lived in a time where institutional racism was prevalent in the US. He fathered seven children with his wife, named Clarence, Robert, Fannie, Mattie, Nora Lee, Ida, and Joseph. He died on July 23, 1937 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Norfolk.  Mr. Boone’s legacy lives on through his strong lineage and his valiant service as a black man in World War I.


United States Census, 1900-1930.

“William Elwood Boone,” World War I History Commission Questionnaires, Library of Virginia.

“William E. Boone,” United States Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1949.

Brier Clear is a history major and NROTC cadet at Norfolk State University.