Chester Howard West (January 3, 1888-May 20, 1935) was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during World War I. West lived for a time in West Virginia and is believed to be the only World War I Medal of Honor recipient buried in the state.
West was born at Fort Collins, Colorado, on January 3, 1888. He enlisted in the United States Army at Los Banos, California, on September 20, 1917, and served as a first sergeant in Company D, 363rd Infantry, 91st Infantry Division. He earned the nation’s highest military honor for actions that occurred on September 26, 1918, near Bois-de-Cheppy, France, at the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. West and the other members of his unit were advancing through thick fog when they were fired upon by a pair of enemy machine guns. West dashed through enemy fire and killed both gunners in hand-to-hand combat. His efforts allowed his company to proceed without any American casualties. West received his honorable discharge on April 29, 1919, and the United States issued him the Medal of Honor later that year.
By 1932, West was living in Pliny, Mason County, and working as a farmhand. He married Margaret Van Sickle on December 25, 1932. In 1935, he was working for Sam McCausland, the son of John McCausland, a Confederate general who had a large farm in Pliny. On May 20, 1935, West was fatally shot by Sam McCausland in what may have been a fight over the general’s gun, and West died the same day in Gallipolis, Ohio. He was buried in Van Sickle Cemetery in Mason County.
Written by William Plants
Howard West Dies; Sam McCausland Held As His Slayer. Gallipolis Daily Tribune, May 21, 1935.
Edward F. Murphy. World War I Hero A 1935 Murder Victim. Medal of Honor Historical Society Annuals, 38-39, December 1978.