The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH
This matter came on for hearing on cross motions for summary judgment. It has been thoroughly briefed, extensive exhibits were filed, and counsel have been heard in open Court. The Court agrees that there is no issue of material fact and concludes that plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. This suit raises the issue of whether the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps were members of the Army of the United States during World War I and whether as such they are entitled to an Honorable Discharge therefrom.
The Court takes judicial notice of the following historical facts: Plaintiffs are a group of railroad men who were recruited, mostly from the Great Northern Railroad, during the course of World War I for service in Siberia as part of a military organization officially designated as the American Expeditionary Force, Siberia.
The Czar's government had collapsed. The Kerensky provisional government had been recognized by the Allied Powers. Efforts were being expedited designed to maintain some semblance of pressure on the Central Powers on what was then called the Eastern Front in order to preclude the transfer of some two million German soldiers from that Front to the Western Front. One principal means of supply insofar as the Russian Forces were concerned was via the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Pacific port was Vladivostok. Connections utilizing the Chinese Eastern Railroad through Harbin, China, were also under consideration. Russian railroads, particularly the Trans-Siberian, were in a chaotic state of disrepair. The key to the contemplated operation was repair and maintenance, and if possible, improvement of this vital link.
Mr. Daniel Willard, then President of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was appointed a member of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense by President Wilson. On March 3, 1917, he was elected Chairman of this important Commission. His statement, which is set forth in the affidavit of the plaintiff Hoskin, reflects that following a conference with Sir George Bury, President of the Canadian Pacific, and at the request of the British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George and with the concurrence of President Wilson and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, Mr. Willard was requested to name a five-man committee to go immediately to Vladivostok for the purpose of evaluating the condition of the Trans-Siberian Railway and reporting thereon to the Allied Powers. Mr. John F. Stevens was named Chairman of this committee. Col. George H. Emerson, formerly general manager of the Great Northern Railroad, became the commanding officer of plaintiffs and those similarly situated.
From the papers filed by the Government in this case, the Court finds the following undisputed material facts: Mr. Daniel Willard's letter dated September 18, 1917, addressed to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. Hugh L. Scott, reveals that he was authorized by the Secretary of War to raise and equip a force of approximately two hundred and fifty railroad officers to go to Russia at once for the purpose of acting as instructors of various divisions of the Russian Railroad. Mr. Willard's letter further revealed that the Secretary of War instructed Mr. S.M. Felton (The Director General of Railways, Corps of Engineers, United States Army), working in conjunction with the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army to arrange the details, such as furnishing these men with uniforms. Grades were provided for these railroad men from second lieutenant to colonel. Plaintiffs without exception are in the lower grades. They were given War Department forms on which to apply for commissions in the Officers Reserve Corps. They received direct commissions, photocopies of which are set forth as exhibits to plaintiff's affidavit on the stationery of the War Department, The Adjutant General's Office, which read individually as follows:
You are hereby informed that the President of the United States has appointed you, SECOND LIEUTENANT in the RUSSIAN RAILWAY SERVICE CORPS, organized under authority of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, to rank as such from November first, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen.
Immediately on receipt hereof, return the acceptance herewith enclosed, properly filled in, subscribed and attested.
Thereafter, on the 21st of January, 1920, following service in Siberia, the Adjutant General addressed the plaintiff
Lieutenant Harry L. Hoskin