Black Jack Pershing: Love and War

The award-winning documentary “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” tells the story of World War I General John J. Pershing’s life and the personal tragedy so painful Pershing could never speak of it.

Black Jack Pershing: Love and War – is an important, dynamic, entertaining documentary featuring a man and his life which was pivotal to America’s successful campaigns during World War 1. The story and history as developed by Barney McCoy adds to our understanding of American history accurately and poignantly, and exemplifies the power of filmmaking.  -Ron Hull, Nebraska Public Broadcasting

When America entered WWI in April of 1917 its military was hardly prepared for war. There were roughly 220,000 U.S. soldiers and officers. America’s troops initially lacked the training needed to effectively fight a veteran German army that used modern warfare tactics.

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In the fall of 1918, more than a million U.S troops fought German forces in the deciding WWI battle of the Meuse-Argonne in France. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

Germany’s high-powered artillery, poison gas, machine guns, fortified defensive positions and fighter planes exacted a heavy toll on U.S. troops. The Americans fought German troops with French, British, Canadian, Australian and other allied forces in deadly combat along 400 miles that comprised the Western Front.

General John J. Pershing was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to command the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. His nickname was “Black Jack.”

Commanding U.S. troops against overwhelming odds would be the greatest challenge of Pershing’s military career. Twenty months after America joined the fight, Pershing and two million troops helped turn the battle tide. Germany was forced to surrender on November 11, 1918.

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General John J. Pershing arrived in France and is greeted by French Army officers in June of 1917. Photo: Library of France.

Black Jack_ John Pershing LW2018 (Promo) from CoJMC on Vimeo.

All rights reserved, 2017 Painted Rock Productions, LLC  

PershingLoveandWar@gmail.com

 

Reserve your free tickets now for the Aug. 2 screening of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” in Kansas City, Mo.

p-National-WWI-Museum-and-Memorial--2015-2_54_PromoPlease join us at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, August 2 at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

It’s a free screening and discussion of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.” To reserve your free tickets click on this link. 

General John J. Pershing, a Missouri native, rose to global recognition with an illustrious military career that included the Allied victory in WWI. Drawn from personal papers, archival photographs and film, the award-winning documentary Black Jack Pershing: Love and War tells the story of Pershing’s military career and his personal life, including tragedies seldom examined.

 

On the Road: Screening “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward, Nebraska

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The audience for our screening of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the Nebraska National Guard Museum on July 2, included historical reenactors who played the roles of Teddy Roosevelt, George Patton and General Pershing as well as (front row, second from left) real-life Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy, director of the U.S. Army National Guard. Photo: Jerry Meyer

Today was a first among our national screenings of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.” The audience at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward included living reenactors of WWI General John J. Pershing, President Teddy Roosevelt, and WWII General George Patton.

There was a real-life lieutenant general in the audience too-  Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy, director of the U.S. Army National Guard attended the standing room only screening of our documentary about General Pershing’s life.

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UNL CoJMC professor Barney McCoy at the screening of his documentary on WWI General John J. Pershing at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward, Nebraska on July 2. Photo: Jerry Meyer

It’s always special to screen the documentary in Nebraska where Pershing spent many formative years of his life.

In the 1890’s, Army Lieutenant, Pershing spent four years commanding the student Cadet Corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while earning a law degree.

Pershing’s two sisters, May and Grace, attended UNL too. They spent their post-college lives living and working in Lincoln. They also helped care for General Pershing’s young son Warren between 1915-1920.

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(Left to right) John Pershing as commander of the cadet corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the1890’s. Pershing with son Warren and sisters May and Grace outside their Lincoln, Nebraska home in the early 1920’s. August 1915 newspaper headline reporting the deaths of John Pershing’s wife Frankie and three daughters.

How come? Pershing’s wife Frankie and the couple’s three young daughters were killed in a fire at the commandant’s residence at the Presidio in San Francisco, California in  August of 1915. At the time, Brigadier General Pershing was on duty more than a thousand miles away at Fort Bliss, Texas. Pershing was sent there amid rumors that Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa was actively planning to lead his troops in a raid against El Paso. Six-year-old Warren, the only survivor of the fire, came to Lincoln to live with General Pershing’s sisters.

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When U.S. General John Pershing first met Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa in 1914 the two men were on friendly terms. Two years later Pershing would lead 10,000 U.S. soldiers on a chase for Villa and his troops after Villa’s forces raided Columbus, New Mexico.

Seven months later, Pancho Villa and his soldiers attacked Columbus, New Mexico, killing 18 Americans and burning down much of the town. Villa was furious with the town because two merchants there reneged on a promise to deliver weapons that Villa had already paid. President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing to retaliate in March 1916. Pershing lead 10,000 U.S. soldiers, chasing the elusive Villa, who knew his way through the difficult terrain of northern Mexico. Villa and his retreating raiders were pursued by Pershing and his soldiers across the border and 400 miles into Mexico where Pershing spent much of the next year before being ordered home. Because of the Mexican government’s dislike of Pershing’s presence on Mexican soil, it proved increasingly dangerous and impossible to capture Villa.

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A letter General John Pershing wrote from Mexico to his son Warren in Lincoln, Nebraska during the U.S. military’s hunt for Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa in 1916.

Between 1917 and 1920, Pershing and his son were again separated. General Pershing was ordered by President Wilson to sail for France to command 2-million U.S. soldiers.

Over the next 18-months, Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces helped to turn the WWI battle tide in favor of the Allies along Europe’s Western Front and helped force a surrender by Germany in late 1918.

During the hunt for Pancho Villa and later in WWI, Pershing regularly wrote letters to Warren back in Lincoln, describing how dearly he missed and loved his son.

In the years after WWI, Pershing was a frequent visitor to Lincoln. He owned a home there, spent time with his sisters and friends, was touted as a potential University of Nebraska chancellor, and explored the possibility he might run for the U.S. presidency. Pershing later decided his chances were slim for a White House run and steered clear of elected politics.

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John J. Pershing during one of his frequent family visits to his Lincoln, Nebraska home during his 71st birthday in 1931.

Pershing also enjoyed fishing and hunting with friends in rural Nebraska. It was an opportunity to break free of the busy life he led in Washington, D.C. and where Pershing spent most of his life until his death at age 87 in 1948.

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The Nebraska National Guard Museum, Seward, Nebraska.

My sincere thanks to Jerry Meyer and Cody Cade at the Nebraska National Guard Museum for helping coordinate and screen today’s showing of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” in Seward.

The museum is a treasure for Nebraska and a “must see” stop for anyone of any age interested in military history.

 

On the Road: Screening “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at Washington, D.C’s Metropolitan Club

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Professor Barney McCoy, director/producer of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” discusses his documentary with members of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C. on June 28.

June 28 was a special screening night for “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C.  Special because John Pershing was a member of the club a century ago as has been almost every U.S. president since Abraham Lincoln. Pershing used the private club in 1917 to interview candidates for his WWI command staff before sailing for France.

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The Metropolitan Club, circa 1922, is where John Pershing vetted his WWI command staff before sailing for France in 1917. Pershing was a member of the club which sits just a couple of blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C.

Founded during the Civil War, the Metropolitan Club is conveniently located at 17th and H streets, just two blocks from the White House. It gave Pershing quick, confidential access to President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Newton Baker when needed as America entered WWI in April 1917 as an ally with France and Britain against Germany.

MetClubComp1My thanks to Ambassador (Ret.) Theodore Sedgwick from the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission and Walker Noland for inviting me to screen the Pershing documentary at the Metropolitan Club. David Hamon from the WWICC also attended the screening and dinner and was a pleasure to meet.

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The Metropolitan Club hosted my wife Joanne and me during our visit to Washington, D.C to screen “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” on June 28.

The WWI Centennial Commission is seeking public donations to build a memorial in Washington, D.C. to those who served and those who were wounded and died serving  America in WWI.

After the documentary, I answered questions from several club members before joining them for more conversation at dinner with wife Joanne in the Metropolitan Club’s elegant dining room.

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Charles Dawes (center) was a close friend of John Pershing’s from their days together in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 1890’s. Back then Dawes was an attorney in Lincoln and Pershing was commander of the cadet corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dawes and Pershing were also members of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C.

During that discussion, I learned from members that former Lincoln attorney Charles Dawes was also a member of the Metropolitan Club. Dawes first met Pershing in the 1890’s when Pershing commanded the cadet corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while earning a law degree. Dawes, at the time, was a young lawyer.

When Pershing earned his bachelor of laws degree at UNL he toyed with the idea of leaving the Army to become a lawyer. Dawes advised Pershing to forget it. “Better lawyers than either you or I can ever hope to be are starving in Nebraska. I’d try the Army for a while yet. Your pay may be small, but it comes very regularly,” said Dawes.

Dawes was on General Pershing’s command staff in France as the general purchasing agent during the Great War. After the war, Dawes was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and became President Calvin Coolidge’s vice president. Dawes and Pershing frequently socialized together. They remained friends for life until Pershing’s death in 1948.

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John J. Pershing and Charles Dawes became friends during their days in Lincoln, Nebraska in the 1890’s and remained close friends for life. This photo of the two men was taken outside Washington, D.C’s Union Station in the 1920’s.

 

 

 

“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” honored by Accolade Global Film Competition as one of this year’s best

(La Jolla, CA, June 2018) – The Accolade Global Film Competition has named “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” as one of this year’s top documentaries. The documentary won an “Award of Excellence Special Mention” from the Accolade judges who noted the documentary’s “skillfully woven narrative with historic photos and video.”

The awards go to filmmakers, television producers and videographers who produce fresh, standout entertainment and compelling documentaries. The Accolade is an international awards competition that honors those who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity.

Accolade Award Announcement

“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” honored with national Sigma Delta Chi documentary award

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Christine Lesiak (left of center) and Bernard “Barney” McCoy (center right) receive the Sigma Delta Chi Award for outstanding journalism for the documentary “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  McCoy produced and directed the documentary. Lesiak was a consulting producer on the project. The Society of Professional Journalists presented the award.

On Friday, June 8th, the Society of Professional Journalists presented Bernard “Barney” McCoy, Christine Lesiak, Luis-Peon Casanova, and Paul Pytlowany with the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism for the documentary “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.”

34849109_10156497380357490_8777274580050903040_nThe Sigma Delta Chi Awards ceremony was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The awards recognize the best in professional journalism in categories covering print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online and research.

The Sigma Delta Chi judges praised the documentary for its meticulous research and revelations about General Pershing’s personal life that was an important part of his historic career. “Truly a work of distinction,” wrote the judges. “While production borrowed more than a page from Ken Burns, they did so in expert fashion and it didn’t seem gimmicky in the least. An enthralling piece of documentary filmmaking.”

 

Pershing 1921 Lincoln Portrait 200“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” tells the life story of Gen. John J. Pershing whose roots ran deep in 20th century America. He commanded 2 million U.S. troops that helped win World War I and changed the world. America became a global superpower, and Pershing rose to be his nation’s highest-ranking military officer. But hidden beneath Pershing’s iron exterior was a man who endured great personal tragedy and heartbreak.

BarneyMcCoy (HS) 411x480_0 Bernard “Barney” McCoy, producer of the documentary, is a professor of broadcasting in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Luis 411x480_0 Luis Peon-Casanova, primary videographer on the project, is an assistant professor of practice in broadcasting in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

LesiakChristine 411x480_0 Christina Lesiak, an award-winning story consultant on the project, is an executive producer at NET, Nebraska’s PBS station.

 

PytlowanyPaulHS 411x480_0

Paul Pytlowany, primary video editor on the project, is a senior videographer and production manager at CBS Detroit

“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is a co-production of McCoy’s Painted Rock Productions and NET,  Nebraska’s PBS station. Production support for the documentary was provided by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It received funding from Lowell Vestal, Sandra S. Pershing, Humanities Nebraska, University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Research Council, and the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation.

For more information contact: PershingLoveandWar@gmail.com

All rights reserved. 2017 Painted Rock Productions, LLC 

On the road in General Pershing’s boyhood hometown of Laclede, Missouri

This weekend took the “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” documentary tour on the road to Laclede, Missouri, the birthplace of General John J. Pershing.

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A statue of General John J. Pershing stands watch in front of the WWI commander’s boyhood home site in Laclede, Missouri.

My thanks to the Missouri State Parks and Missouri Department of Natural Resources for hosting my visit to the Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site.

On Saturday the site hosted a solemn Blessing of Poppies Ceremony. For centuries poppies have symbolized the battlefield sacrifices of soldiers. They were immortalized in this famous WWI poem by British Lt. Col. John McCrae.

red flowers on garden during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If yea break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

20180602_224809Soil collected from the eight American WWI  cemeteries in Europe, where more than one million U.S. soldiers fought, was blessed and transferred to a new WWI Commemorative Garden being built at the Pershing Boyhood Home site.

The sacred soil was cast into the garden where the first poppies have been sown and are now in bloom. The finished garden will be dedicated this September as part of General Pershing’s 158th birthday weekend.

As the visiting crowd looked on Saturday, VFW members and a military color guard fired a cannon volley, followed by a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps” in honor of the roughly 117,000 Americans who died in service to their country during the Great War.

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Visitors and guests to the Gen. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site look on during Saturday’s “Blessing of the Poppies” commemorative event.

20180602_224717Native Americans from the Cherokee Nation and Muscogee Nation, whose members also fought and died in WWI also spoke and sang at the memorial dedication event.

On Sunday, another group of more than 100 people attended a free viewing of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” the award-winning documentary on Pershing’s life, at the Reel Time Cinema in neighboring Brookfield, Missouri.

20180603_193908Afterward, audience members asked me questions about Pershing’s pivotal role as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe and America’s critical decision to enter WWI in April 1917. At the time, victory was far from certain for America and its French and British allies.

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Denzil Heaney, administrator of the General Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in Laclede, Missouri with Barney McCoy, producer of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.”   

Ultimately, America’s involvement in the war gave the Allies a numerical and tactical advantage that helped turn the battle tide, forced a German surrender, and brought an end to the fighting on November 11, 1918.

It was an honor to screen my documentary on General Pershing’s life in the place where America’s only active-duty six-star general was born and raised.

A special thanks to Denzil Heaney, administrator of the Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site, the many volunteers who helped plan and staff this weekend’s events, and the many veterans and active duty military members who have served their country in the past and still today.

General Pershing and his fallen soldiers

World War I General John “Black Jack” Pershing commanded more than 2-million American troops in Europe a century ago.
More than 117,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Great War.
During the 100th anniversary year of the WWI armistice when America honors the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military, this video illustrates Pershing’s insistence that his American soldiers who died serving their nation never be forgotten.

General John J. Pershing: The Fallen from CoJMC on Vimeo.

 

On the road with “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

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We had a great screening of our documentary on WWI General John Pershing at the National Archives yesterday as Memorial Day weekend approaches and America honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

We screened the documentary in the National Archives McGowan theater to an audience that filled about two-thirds of the beautiful historic theater.

The audience asked great questions afterward about America’s important role in World War 1 and about General Pershing – Questions about Pershing’s life after the Great War, about the challenges facing America as a late entrant into the war, about Germany and the Allies attempts to employ code breakers to spy on each other’s troop positions, strategies, and movements in the war.

The audience members were very receptive to our award-winning documentary on Pershing’s life.

A very special thanks to our hosts, the National Archives, and the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.

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Historian, Pershing author, and good friend Mitch Yockelson helped moderate the audience discussion after the screening of the documentary. Mitch and I have worked together on past screenings of the Pershing documentary. Yockelson’s always a very knowledgeable delight to work with.

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We’re pleased to announce that “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is now available to rent or own on Amazon Prime. Click here to go to the Amazon Prime page for the documentary on the life of WWI General John J. Pershing.  

Amazon Prime members may watch the award-winning documentary for free as part of their annual or monthly memberships. Please watch our historic documentary about John J. Pershing and leave a viewer’s review to share your thoughts about the documentary.

The next stop for public screenings of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” will be on Sunday, June 3nd at the Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in beautiful Laclede, Missouri. Hope you can join us.

On the road in York, Nebraska with “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War”

33150498_10155482887126451_6014919406751055872_oWhat a wonderful audience at York College in York, Nebraska Monday night for the “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” documentary screening. York College’s Mackey Center was a beautiful venue for the screening and featured two screens on which our audience could watch the award-winning documentary.

Thanks to history professor Tim McNeese, York College, and Humanities Nebraska for hosting my WWI documentary and discussion of General John J. Pershing’s life.

33163160_10155482887346451_8790941788757032960_oSome members of the audience, which numbered about 100, had fathers or grandfathers who served in the Great War and fought with the American Expeditionary Forces under General Pershing.

One woman told me her father served in France during WWI and helped document the war through films and photographs for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

There were also several WWI artifacts one local collector shared with our audience.

33343537_10155482887466451_5996296677663703040_oI’m looking forward to our public screening of the documentary at the National Archives and Records Administration this Thursday at noon in Washington, D.C.

The free event will be hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration, the U.S.World War I Centennial Commission, and introduced by good friend and Pershing historian Mitch Yockelson. Click here for details. 

Click here to see our latest screening and discussion schedule for “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” and learn how to schedule a screening in your community.

33122709_10155482887861451_8786026980370808832_oWe’re also pleased to announce that “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is now available to rent or own on Amazon Prime. Click here to go to the Amazon Prime page for the documentary on the life of WWI General John J. Pershing.  

Amazon Prime members may watch the award-winning documentary for free as part of their annual or monthly memberships. Please watch our historic documentary about John J. Pershing and leave a viewer’s review to tell us what you think of the documentary.

Available on Amazon Prime- “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War”

33122709_10155482887861451_8786026980370808832_oWe’re pleased to announce that “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is now available to rent or own on Amazon Prime. Click here to go to the Amazon Prime page for the documentary on the life of WWI General John J. Pershing.  

Amazon Prime members may watch the award-winning documentary for free as part of their annual or monthly memberships. Please watch our historic documentary about John J. Pershing and leave a viewer’s review to tell us what you think of the documentary.

John Pershing commanded 2 million U.S. troops in Europe that helped win World War I. He would become the only active duty six-star general in American history. But behind General Pershing’s iron exterior stood a man who endured a great personal tragedy and heartbreak he would never reveal for the rest of his life.