Gilson D. Light

Gilson Don Light was born in Columbus Grove, Ohio, in 1883. He began his career in business but is known for his work as the Safety Director of Toledo from 1922-1924. He also served for a short time as the Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary. Moreover, he was a National Guardsman for forty years and rose in rank from private in the Ohio National Guard to Adjutant General. In the federal service, he went from a private to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.["Gilson D. Light", The Historical Society of Northwestern Ohio. Vol 3, No. 2 (April 1941), p.12].

When the call for national service came in 1917, Light resigned his Ohio command and enlisted as a private in the 1st Infantry Brigade. He was discharged and commissioned as a Major in the Brigade thirteen days later. The Brigade was redesignated the 74th Infantry under his command. Light's first engagement was in the Baccarat sector near Lunneville, France, and he was soon promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was in the drive on Brussels when the armistice was signed. Light was honored with the French and Belgian Croix de Guerre and the United States Order of the Purple Heart.(Ibid).

When Light returned to Ohio, he was reappointed to command an Ohio National Guard regiment. He became adjutant of the 37th division of the National Guard until the division was inducted into federal service. He then became State Selective Service Director.(Toledo Blade, 3 March 1941). He would have entered the Federal military service again if he had not been rejected because of a physical defect that was the result of his long service.("Gilson D. Light," p.12). At the time of his death on February 21, 1941, he was Adjutant General of Ohio.

Light was buried with full military honors. Nearly 1,000 people attended the service and a crowd of several hundred persons gathered for the final rites at Woodlawn Cemetery. The procession was escorted by motorized Army equipment. The body was carried to the grave through a guard of representatives from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Spanish-American War. The Service Troop (Toledo) and Troop D (Cleveland) offered the military honors and an eight soldier s

 

quad fired the three-volley salute, followed by taps. The American flag which had draped the casket was given to Mrs. Light at the close of the service.(Toledo Blade).

The Ohio National Guard Armory on Tracy Road was dedicated in honor of Major General Gilson D. Light whose military career dated from 1899. This complex, built on a fifteen acre site, houses five guard units from Lucas and Wood counties. This $2.5 million armory, which has been occupied since September of 1975, when it replaced the former Wall Street Armory in Toledo.(Ibid).

 

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