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"Marines drilling for war service at Navy Yard. Marines at Charlestown Navy Yard going through gun exercises," Boston, Massachusetts, 1917. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Digital Commonwealth.

At university-affiliated training centers and training camps across the country, the United States military declared a four-month training process “sufficient” for entry into their ranks. The African Americans who were drafted in disproportionately high numbers were also included in training programs, although they were as segregated here as they were at every level and division of the military. Future soldiers were taught to specialize in a role, such as a gunner, rifleman, medical specialist, or clerk. The level of training that each soldier received varied greatly; some soldiers made it overseas to France without ever having fired a gun.

Outbreaks of the influenza pandemic of 1918 claimed the lives of many of the men residing in close quarters within the military camps. The pandemic would kill 50 million people worldwidea staggering number when compared to the already horrific nine million who lost their lives in World War I.