Over Over There
Written by Kelly Durham
One hundred two years ago today, the Great War ended. As the clock ticked its way to 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, the World War stumbled to its deadly conclusion. The fighting was over—but not the dying.
Among those celebrating the end of the War-to-End-All-Wars were the men of the 85th Aero Squadron. Only the previous day, the 85th had flown its first mission over enemy lines reconnoitering the railway yards at Conflans-en-Jarnisy. One of the 85th’s pilots was First Lieutenant Henry Lee Suggs, Clemson College Class of 1916.
Suggs had enjoyed a distinguished collegiate career after arriving on the tiny campus in northwestern South Carolina in the fall of 1912. An electrical and mechanical engineering major from York, “Hawkshaw,” as he was nicknamed by his fellow cadets, served as president of the Wade Hampton Literary Society, president of the Junior Science Club, and president of the York County Club. He was a member of the Tiger staff, the Thalian Dancing Club, and the Senior Banquet Committee. He also found time to play football. As a guard, said to be the strongest man on the team, he helped anchor the line of a Clemson squad that never yielded more than fourteen points in a single contest all season. In 1915, Suggs’s senior season, the Tigers battled Davidson to a six-all tie in the very first game played on Riggs Field.
Upon Suggs’s graduation, Taps, the cadet yearbook wrote that “Since he is a man of such great ability, we can but predict for him boundless success…” Suggs enlisted in the Army in May 1917 and earned his commission after completing officer training.
Following the armistice, the 85th Aero Squadron remained in France, undertaking aerial photography of the Hindenburg Line of defensive positions along the border between Germany and France. On December 18, forty-five minutes into an observation mission near Toul, Suggs’s plane went into a spin and crashed. Suggs was picked up alive and taken to a field hospital where he died that same day.
For additional information on First Lieutenant Henry Lee Suggs, see:
For more information on Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor, visit: