Isaac Valley’s Personal Narrative was derived from information found in public records, military personnel files, and local/state historical association materials. Please note that the Robb Centre never fully closes the book on our servicemembers; as new information becomes available, narratives will be updated to appropriately represent the life story of each veteran.
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Distinguished Service Cross
Citation: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Corporal Isaac Valley (ASN: 1403725), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company M, 370th Infantry Regiment, 93d Division, A.E.F., at Vraincourt, France on 22 July 1918. When a hand grenade was dropped among a group of soldiers in a trench and when he might have saved himself by flight, Corporal Valley attempted to cover it with his foot and thereby protect his comrades. In the performance of this brave act he was severely wounded.
Life & Service
- Birth: 5 November 1892, Girard, KS, United States
- Place of Residence: Milwaukee, WI, United States
- Race/Ethnicity: African American
- Death: 22 October 1942 Milwaukee, WI, United States
- Branch: Army
- Military Rank: Corporal
- Company: [M]
- Infantry Regiment: 370th
- Division: 93rd
Isaac Valley was born to Moses Valley (1849-1902) and Rachel Clark (1842-1922) in Girard, Kansas, the last of six children; Mabel Lottie (1882-?), Joseph Moses (1883-1970), Caroline (1886-1977), Lovejoy (1889-1957), and David (1890-?). Moses Valley was born into slavery in Fredericktown, Missouri; after his marriage to Rachel Clark in 1878, the couple had two children in Illinois before relocating to Kansas. The family settled at William Andrews’ Farm in the Southwest corner of Girard, Crawford County.
Valley worked as a day laborer on Andrews’ Farm into his teens, living with his mother and siblings (at one point, 517 Cherokee St.).
Around 1912, Valley served as a Private with Co. E, 24th Infantry Regiment- it is unknown whether he was stationed overseas in the Philippine Islands during his tenure. He was mustered into federal service with Co. M, 370th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, AEF on 13 December 1917; he left Newport News, Virginia aboard the U.S. Army Transport Ship President Grant on 7 April 1918. Then-Corporal Valley received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Vraincourt, France on 22 July,
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Corporal Isaac Valley (ASN: 1403725), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company M, 370th Infantry Regiment, 93d Division, A.E.F., at Vraincourt, France on 22 July 1918. When a hand grenade was dropped among a group of soldiers in a trench and when he might have saved himself by flight, Corporal Valley attempted to cover it with his foot and thereby protect his comrades. In the performance of this brave act he was severely wounded”.
Several local papers followed Valley’s service;
“GENERAL PERSHING MENTIONS ISAAC VALLEY IN COUNIQUE: Isaac Valley, mentioned in the above dispatch, is a colored man and the son of Mrs. Mose Valley, who lives in Girard. He is 26 years old and served in the regular army in the Philippines. Soon after the United States entered the present war he enlisted again in the regular army and was one of the first to be sent to France. His father died many years ago. The family formerly lived on a farm southwest of Girard. His mother was apprised of the news of her son’s honor on the battlefield last night by The Sun through Undersheriff Milt Gould and she was very proud. She said she had raised her son to be a soldier”.
“Corporal Isaac Valley, colored, was among those cited for heroism which stopped the Germans on the Marne. He is the son of Mrs. Moses Valley, of Girard. He is 26 years old. Late papers report him a prisoner in German prison camps”.
Corporal Valley left Brest, France aboard the U.S. Army Transport Ship Leviathan with an assortment of wounded on 9 October 1918, arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey on 16 October.
“Mrs. Rachel Valley has a letter from her son Isaac, who was wounded so severely a short time ago, in an effort to protect his comrades from the effects of an exploding grenade, for which deed he received a distinguished service badge. He is now in a hospital at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.”
“J.M. Valley visited his brother, Isaac, in a hospital at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, a few days ago, and reports that Isaac is getting on nicely. He was wounded in both arms, both legs, the face, and body in a successful effort to ‘smother’ a hand grenade, thus saving the lives of many of his comrades. For this he was cited for bravery, and will receive a medal. Both feet were saved, but he will always be more or less crippled. He has some thrilling experiences to relate”.
Valley was Honorably Discharged on 23 May 1919 at Des Moines, Iowa.
The Sun. Pittsburg, Kansas. 21 August 1918.
The Girard Press. Girard, Kansas. 22 August 1918.
The Girard Press. Girard, Kansas. 9 January 1919.
The Girard Press. Girard, Kansas. 28 November 1918.
Valley lived with his mother in Girard (517 Cherokee St.) upon his arrival home. Valley was admitted into a National Home for Disabled Soldiers on 30 December 1920 with the following disability listed, “GSW rt.(?) foot, incised bones, left arm”, and, “Old gunshot, wound rt foot. Loss 5th toe rt foot. Pr(????) bilaterial”, remaining until 2 April 1921. He was readmitted on 22 August 1924, discharged 30 October; readmitted 14 January 1925, discharged 2 June; readmitted 15 June, discharged 2 February 1926; readmitted 16 February, discharged 23 October. Transferred on 23 October and discharged 3 February 1928; readmitted 16 May 1929, discharged 21 June; readmitted 11 July, discharged 2 July 1931.
In 1928 Valley married Ella Anderson (1888-?), the couple moved (with Ella Anderson Valley’s mother, Georgia) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (507 Seventh St.) in 1930. The family remained in Milwaukee into the 1940s (1820 N Ninth St.) until Valley’s re-admittance into care at the Milwaukee Soldiers and Sailors Home, where he died, on 22 October 1942. Valley is buried at Wood National Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.