George Howard Fleck was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 23 April 1895. He was the son of George and Emma Fleck. He entered Rhode Island State College in September 1914 with the class of 1918, majoring in Electrical Engineering. He was a member of Delta Alpha Psi and participated in the Army ROTC program for three years.
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College, 334 left to serve in WWI. George, like so many of his classmates, left college after his junior year to enter the U.S. Army and began his officer training at Plattsburg, New York in May 1917. In August 1917, he received his commission as a First Lieutenant of Infantry and immediately deployed to France. He initially received training at the British Officers’ School and entered combat with the British on 12 November 1917. 1LT Fleck was then assigned as a platoon leader, Machine Gun Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces.
First Lieutenant George Howard Fleck was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment and was cited for Gallantry in Action and Bravery, recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre and awarded the Citation Star.
For “Gallantry in Action”, by direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved 9 July 1918, First Lieutenant George Howard Fleck United States Army is cited by the Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force for “Gallantry in Action” and was awarded the “Citation Star” and a “Silver Star” was placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. First Lieutenant George Howard Fleck distinguished himself by gallantry in action during operations connected with the capture and defense of Cantigny, France during 27-31 May 1918. On 27 May 1918 while serving with Machine Gun Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, an enemy combat force raided his unit’s position. Lieutenant Fleck, by an inspiring example of leadership and courage, held his men well in hand and kept his post while engaged with the enemy in spite of serious losses.
The Silver Star Medal was not established until 1932. At that time, Veterans of World War I who had been cited for “Gallantry in Action” were awarded the Silver Star Medal in lieu of the “Citation Star.” The French de Croix Guerre Medal was instituted on 8 April 1915 by the French Government to recognize acts of bravery.
Lieutenant Fleck continued to display his bravery and gallantry during the Battle of the Marne Salient, 18-22 July 1918. He was cited for his heroism by the Commander, 18th Infantry Regiment. In a subsequent battle, Lieutenant Fleck was wounded in September 1918. He recovered from his wounds in an American Forces hospital in France.
After World War I, Captain George H. Fleck returned to the United States and settled in Providence, Rhode Island. George married Gladys Swann, and they had two children. George was employed as an Inspector at the General Cable Corporation, Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Captain Fleck died in 1976 and was buried with full military honors at the North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island. Captain George Howard Fleck, Infantry, U.S. Army, is a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service for Rhode Island and America during the “Great War.”