Delayed by heavy snows in the Cascades, the first troop train bringing home the doughboys of the 63rd Coast Artillery Corps did not arrive at the Great Northern station in Everett until nearly noon.
“Far away down the track the cheers of the crowd and the music of the band reached our ears, and as we pulled into the station the throng swarmed the platform to be the first to exchange greetings,” Private John Brown wrote in his diary on March 12, 1919. “The parade was soon formed and we moved down the street in our first parade in Washington.”
A crowd estimated at 15,000 had started forming at 7 a.m. It lined the curbs on a warm, breezy and sunny day to greet 454 men and 16 officers.
Formed in December 1917 at Fort Worden around Port Townsend, the Puget Sound unit departed for France on June 13, 1918 as part of the Allied Expeditionary Force. They arrived a month later and were stationed and trained at Limoges, France. They never saw combat before leaders signed the armistice ending the war in November, 1918. Their only casualty was the result of drowning.
Now, demobilization was less than two weeks away.
The men looked “hard and fit,” as they marched up a Hewitt Avenue lined with bunting and American flags to the music of three bands,” The Everett Daily Herald reported on its front page. People sitting in cars blocked every cross street.
“Tears, smiles, chaffing, but little noise marked the welcome,” according to the newspaper. “It was not a crowd that felt like demonstrating with clamor.”
Afterward, the women of Everett feted soldiers with pies, cakes and coffee at Pastime pool room while the officers were served a chicken dinner at the Elks’ club.
“If any man had less than he could eat, it was his fault,” the newspaper story read.
Later that afternoon, the men boarded the train again bound for Seattle. Another parade awaited.