Privates Chernecky (left) and Jones (right) of "M" Company, 15th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Taken around 1914 in Tientsin, China. The two men wear the American version of the British foreign service helmet. These helmets had at one time been considered the height of military-style but were never popular with American troops who generally preferred a slouch hat. While this may have been the case with the U.S. Army in general the 15th Infantry seems to have adopted these helmets as something of a trademark while stationed in China during the years before World War One.
Gabriel Steven Chernecky was born on 26 March 1891 in Zastinki, Russia to Stephen Chernecky and Anna Kasnach. He left Europe on the steamer, SS Oldenburg, via Bremen, Germany, and arrived in New York City on 23 April 1910. He was shown as being 5 foot 9 inches tall with an occupation of a weaver. His petition for naturalization also gives his birth name Ignac Korpinowicz.
He enlisted in "M" Company 15th Infantry Regiment on 27 December 1913 and received his honorable discharge on 15 October 1915 having served his entire enlistment with the 15th Regiment stationed in Tientsin, China.
When he made his declaration of intent to become a US citizen on 26 December 1913 (and the day before enlisting) he was a resident of San Francisco, California living on 84 Jackson Street. After his return from China, he was a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and working as a bartender. He was later a notary public in Ansonia, Connecticut. He also was the proprietor of the Quality Market in Ansonia and doubled as a steamship ticket agent.
With the outbreak of World War One, Chernecky re-enlisted in the army on 1 June 1917 and was assigned as a Private, First Class to Company D of the 22nd United States Infantry. Thus regular army regiment remained in New York for the duration of the war providing guard detachments for various important sites and transportation infrastructure. One battalion served detached duty in Washington, D.C. On his Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Veteran's Compensation Forum, it is stated that Chernecky was injured in the line of duty no less
than four times, the first time on 13 February 1918 secondly on 28 February 1918, thirdly on 7 May 1918, and lastly on 1 July 1918. No details as to the cause or nature of these injuries are given. He was honorably discharged on 19 April 1919 and was entitled to the World War One Victory Medal (no clasps).
According to the Ansonia city directory for 1947 Gabriel Chernecky died on 26 December 1945.
Based on a return for the 15th Regiment at Tientsin, China for March 1914, the pictured Private Jones seems to be George W. Jones of Company M. There or no other members of Co. M listed by the name of Jones so this would appear to be the correct identification for the pictured soldier. No additional details regarding Jones are given in the return and so far no enlistment records have been found so Jones remains at this time a bit of a mystery.
8 3/4 inches by 6 3/4 inches ( 22cm x 17cm )