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Columbia Business Monthly

Pershing Lunch and Learn Program

A World War I enthusiast portrays the famed general

On Friday, Oct. 27, Gen. John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing will speak about his experiences in the First World War at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. Or at least, a remarkable facsimile will. Dane Coffman, a World War I enthusiast who bears a striking resemblance to his subject, will appear in full uniform at the museum to portray the general during the period in which he led the American Expeditionary Force to victory in Europe. Mr. Coffman will speak, from the general’s point of view, about the challenge Pershing faced of taking green troops – the U.S. Army grew in 18 months from 126,000 officers and men to 4 million – and leading them in helping defeat the Central Powers. A grandfather of five and retired employee of Delta Air Lines, Mr. Coffman has appeared as Pershing at the dedication of the National World War One Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and in the 2012 Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, as well as having attended numerous symposiums and museums in character. Gen. Pershing, who was born in 1860 and died in 1948, was the only American to be promoted in his own lifetime to General of the Armies rank, the highest possible rank in the United States Army. The presentation, part of the museum’s Lunch and Learn series, begins at noon, is open to the public and is free of charge.