Joe Price was a native Kansan who enlisted in the Navy at Kansas City, Missouri, on July 26, 1918.  He was born at Effingham on October 3, 1897, and he found himself not being assigned to a ship in the Atlantic fleet, but the Pacific.

Not that this wasn’t important.  He was assigned to the U.S.S. Vicksburg, which patrolled the west coast for the threat of German submarines.  There was concern that after the Zimmermann telegram, Germany might continue to try to make an alliance with Mexico.  The Vicksburg had its moment a few months before Price joined its crew.

Joe Price's NAVY uniform on display at the Kansas Museum of History

Joe Price’s NAVY uniform on display at the Kansas Museum of History

On March 17, 1918, the Vicksburg received intelligence that a schooner carrying Germans would leave Viejo Bay, Mexico.  The schooner was stopped, and the Vicksburg found on board five Germans, eight Mexicans, an American spy–probably the source of the tip–as well as arms, ammunition, and a German flag.

The Vicksburg continued its patrol of the west coast until October 1919.  In addition to its patrol duties, the Vicksburg also escorted American ships going to Russia as part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.

Joe Price might not have had the war experience he expected when he signed up, but his service and that of the Vicksburg is a reminder that the Great War extended to the Pacific for Americans as well as others.

Joe’s uniform now is in the collection of the Kansas Museum of History.

Click here for a pic of sailors on the Vicksburg.


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.