|Privates Chernecky (left) and Jones (right) of "M" Company, 15th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Taken around 1914 in Tientsin, China. The two men wear the American version of the
British foreign service helmet. These helmets had at one time been considered the height of military style but were never popular with American troops who generally preferred a slouch
hat. While this may have been the case with the U.S. Army in general the 15th Infantry seems to have adopted these helmets as something of a trademark while stationed in China
during the years prior to World War One.
Gabriel Steven Chernecky was born on 26 March, 1891 in Zastinki, Russia to Stephen Chernecky and Anna Kasnach. He left Europe on the steamer SS Oldenburg via Bremen,
Germany and arrived in New York City on 23 April, 1910. He was shown as being 5 foot 9 inches tall with an occupation of weaver. His petition for naturalization also gives his birth
name as Ignac Korpinowicz.
He enlisted in "M" Company 15th Infantry Regiment on 27 December, 1913 and received his honorable discharge on 15 October 1915 having served his entire enlistment with the 15th
Regiment stationed in Tientsin, China.
When he made his declaration of intent to become an US citizen on 26 December 1913 (and the day before enlisting) he was a resident of San Francisco, California living on 84 Jackson
Street. After his return from China he was resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and working as a bartender. He was later a notary public in Ansonia, Connecticut. He also was the
proprietor of the Quality Market in Ansonia and doubled as a steamship ticket agent.
With the outbreak of World War One, Chernecky re-enlisted in the army on 1 June, 1917 and was assigned as a Private, First Class to Company D of the 22nd United States Infantry.
Thus regular army regiment remained in New York for the duration of the war providing guard detachments for various important sites and transportation infrastructure. One battalion
served detached duty in Washington, D.C. On his Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Veteran's Compensation Forum, it is stated that Chernecky was injured in the line of duty no less
that four times, the first time on 13 February, 1918 secondly on 28 February, 1918, thirdly on 7 May, 1918 and lastly on 1 July, 1918. No details as to the cause or nature of these
injuries are given. He was honorably discharged on 19 April 1919 and was entitled to the World War One Victory Medal (no clasps).
According the Ansonia city directory for 1947 Gabriel Chernecky died on 26 December, 1945.
Based on a return for the 15th Regiment at Tientsin, China for March 1914, the pictured Private Jones seems to be George W. Jones of Company M. There or no other members of Co.
M listed by the name of Jones so this would appear to be the correct identification for the pictured soldier. No additional details regarding Jones is given in the return and so far no
enlistment records have been found so Jones still remains at this time a bit of a mystery.
8 3/4 inches by 6 3/4 inches ( 22cm x 17cm )
|Left: A detail view of Privates Gabriel Steven Chernecky and
George W. Jones, Company M, 15th United States Infantry,
Tientsin, China c. 1914. Both men appear to be wearing the olive
drab cotton drill 1911 pattern summer service uniform. I have
been unable to find a definitive resource describing the specific
pattern of tropical service helmets that Chernecky and Jones are
wearing although based on photographic evidence these helmets
seem to have remained popular with men of the 15th Regiment in
China long after being abandoned by U.S. troops elsewhere.
|Above: The photograph's reverse side showing the period inscription identifying the subjects.
|Above: The second photograph of Privates Chernecky and Jones showing the men with helmets off and shaking hands. In
a strange instance oh happenstance this photograph was purchased some ten years after the example shown at the top of
this page and from another seller in another part of the country. That the two photographs were taken by the same
photographer during the same photographic session is without question. Although enough time must have been allowed
for a change out of photographic backgrounds.
|Left: Privates Gabriel Chernecky and George Jones shake hands in
a photographic studio somewhere in Tientsin, China on the eve of
World War One.
|Above: The identifying ink inscription on the reverse side of the handshake photograph. The inscription is in the same hand as
that on the first image and is in fact worded almost exactly as that on the first one.