April 6, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. While this day commemorates a military decision, it’s also serves as an important reminder that the war created a significant need for humanitarian organizations to provide some urgently-needed relief in response to the devastation. One of these organizations was the American Field Service (AFS), organized in April 1915 as a volunteer American ambulance corps working in Belgium, France, and the Balkans. The AFS volunteers would go on to save more than 400,000 wounded from both sides of the war.
One of the 2,500 AFS volunteers was Julian B.L. Allen, who lied about his age on his AFS application when he applied in 1915. At only fifteen years old, Allen found himself overseas, engaged in a bloody war that horrified much older men. He was nicknamed “The Kid Chauffeur” by his fellow AFS volunteers, given his young age, and became known for embarking on exceptionally daring work in the face of danger. You can read more about Allen and AFS unit SSU 4 in the cover story of the Fall 2016 issue of the AFS Janus magazine here!