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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Deaton, Robert L. (P1, C2 L9)

deaton robert headstoneCorporal Robert Deaton, 19, of Knox County, Kentucky, a member of Company G, 149th Infantry, Barbourville, Kentucky, was accidentally killed at the corner of Powell and Brighton streets in Covington, Kentucky, on 24 December 1921 while on state active duty during steel strikes at Newport. While he and Sergeant Charles Black were on duty, Sergeant Black became suddenly ill and about to fall and in recovering his balance his right arm knocked Deaton's revolver from his holster. The revolver fell to the street discharging a cartridge. The bullet struck the right side of Corporal Deaton’s neck. He was rushed to the hospital but bled to death on the way. Colonel Henry H. Denhardt, commanding the troops made an investigation and pronounced the killing accidental. Below is an article which appeared on page 10 of the 26 December edition of the Cincinnati Post:

The body of Robert Deaton, 20, Corporal, was sent to his home at Barbourville, Ky., by military authorities Sunday night. Deaton was shot accidentally by his boyhood friend and companion, Sergeant Charles Black, 20, Saturday night while the two were on duty at Powell and Brighton Streets, Newport.

Black was ill and in a fainting condition when the shot was fired, it is said, and, in an effort to save himself from falling, knocked his revolver from its holster. A bullet plowed thru Deaton’s neck and into his brain.

Mountain Advocate 30 December 1921 p. 4

    Corporal Robert E. Deaton 
    Killed Accidentally While On Duty

    A grim tragedy attended the calling of Company G, to Newport, Ky., where a strike is in progress at the rolling mills.

    On Saturday, while on duty, Corporal Deaton was drilling the squad with Sergt. Charles Black to his left.  The command was given to shoulder arms, preparatory to the order to march.  The butt end of the rifle carried by Sergt. Black caught the holster of the pistol he was wearing.  The flap was open for quick action and the pistol fell out of the holster striking the ground and discharging.  The bullet struck Corporal Deaton in the chin and came out at the side of the head near the top.  He died within a few minutes.  Sergt. Black was prostrated at the accident which ended the life of his chum.

    Deceased is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Dan Deaton and is a brother of McKinley Deaton, Knox County’s first war hero, who fell on the soil of France.  He was born June 4th, 1902, and was 19 years, 5 months and 24 days old when the accident occurred.

    The funeral service was conducted by Rev. J. H. Blackburn, Tuesday, December 27th, at 1 P.M.  Members of Company G, and ex-service men participating.

    Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved family who have so recently felt the sorrow of loss.  The mother is in a serious condition due to the shock.

The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky) 14 Mar 1922, Tue Page 1

    Gun Kills Second Guard
    In Accident At Newport

    State Guard Killed When Gun Which Had Killed Another Guard Fell From Hand of Comrade.

    Frank Crone, 20 years old, 509 Russell Street, Covington, a private in the Thirty-Eight Tank Company, Kentucky National Guards, stationed at the Newport Rolling Mills, was shot accidentally and instantly killed early Monday night when one of his comrades dropped his automatic pistol on a stove and the weapon exploded. The bullet entered Crone’s head just above the left eye and the man was pronounced dead upon arrival at Speers Hospital.

    The accident took place in the guardhouse at the mill.

    According to witnesses, the shot which killed Crone came from a weapon belonging to  John Yates, 20 years old, Brighton street, Newport, a private in the same company with Crone. Yates was coming off guard duty and Crone was about to go on. Yates was twirling his pistol about his finger by means of the trigger guard when suddenly the weapon fell out of his hand and dropped on the guardhouse stove.

    The report followed and Crone fell to the ground.

    A peculiar feature of the accident is that the gun which killed Crone is the same that figured in a similar accident at the Newport Rolling Mill on Christmas Eve. At that time Sergeant Charles Black, Barouboursville (Barbourville), Ky., knocked the weapon out of his own holster so that it fell on the ground and was discharged, the ball entering the abdomen of Corporal Robert Deaton, 19 years old, also of Barboursville (Barbourville).Deaton died a few hours later.

The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) 20 Feb 1922, Mon Page 14

    Three Guardsmen Accused

    The other three guardsmen were arrested yesterday afternoon on complant of Freeland Justise, 114 Garfield place. Charges of pointing a firearm were placed again Harrison Lockard, 20 years old, Barbourville, Ky., and charges of disorderly conduct were also filed against Lockard and two companions, Chrles Black, 23 years old, and Sergeant Fred Marsee, 23 years old.


The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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