At twenty years of age, in 1916, Austin gave up the plow and the hoe for a campaign hat and the horse cavalry. Enlisting in the United States Army in 1916, Austin was sent to Fort Carson, Colorado to learn his military skills. After completing his military basic training, Austin was sent to the Philippine Islands which was the most distant outpost of the United States military. At that time the United States had not entered the European conflict and was still at peace. Austin was serving in the Philippines when the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917.
Above, right: Austin Skinner in his Army uniform
It’s a long way from Orlando to the Philippines and then to Siberia, but Austin weathered the trip well, despite the torrid heat of the Philippines and the frigid cold of Siberia. Austin liked to reminisce that in the Philippines he could fry an egg on a rock and in Vladivostok the temperature was thirty five below zero.
Another American unit, the 31st Infantry Regiment known as the “Polar Bears,” was also involved in the Siberian operation. Years later, in the desolate and frigid mountains of North Korea, Austin’s son, Bill, would be a member of the “Polar Bear” Regiment which would also have to come to grips with north Asian winters.
Postcards of Siberia from Austin Skinner
In Siberia, the “Wolfhound” Regiment gained an outstanding reputation among the Allied forces, the Japanese, British, Czech and Chinese, for its prowess in marching long distances in pursuit of the Bolshevik forces and had sterling success in guarding the Trans-Siberian Railway against Bolshevik depredations.
For his exemplary service, Austin was promoted to the rank of Corporal during his Siberian deployment. After sixteen months of duty on the frozen tundra of Siberia, Austin and the “Wolfhound” Regiment were re-deployed to the Philippines.
Right: Austin Skinner's commission as a Corporal. Click on it to enlarge the image.
After his military service was completed in 1920, Austin returned to Orlando for a little rest and recuperation, but soon found R & R boring and not very well paying and shortly secured employment at a Weston glass plant.
Austin also secured for himself a wife when in March 1921 he married Mrs. Estie (Reed) Posey. Estie was the widow of Wayne Posey, a conductor on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, who died in Weston in 1920 of typhoid fever. Wayne was the son of George J. and Minerva (Hopkins) Posey of Posey Run. Unfortunately this marriage didn’t last nor did Austin stay long in Weston.
Left: Austin with his first wife, Estie, widow of Wayne Posey.
Finding better employment in Clarksburg with the Hazel-Atlas Glass Corporation, he moved to that city. He also found another wife in Clarksburg and married the former Carrie Barnes.
Austin and Carrie became the parents of thirteen children. Austin worked the remainder of his life with Hazel-Atlas and became supervisor of the packing and shipping department.
In the latter months of 1946, Austin contracted rheumatic fever. The severity of the disease affected his heart and in February 1947, without recovering, he died of rheumatic carditis at the young age of fifty.
Left: Austin Skinner's obituary.
Below: Austin Skinner's grave marker.