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America entered World War I in 1917. Tom Ashley (1894-1918), who graduated from Amherst College in 1916, enlisted in the Marine Corps in that year. His training began in Winthrop, Maryland, where he learned, among other things, how to shoot a rifle, a machine gun, and a pistol. He tells Maurice that life in the marine corps suits him and that he and the others are eager to get to Europe to participate in the war, or, as he phrases it, "we are all anxious to get down to some real work and get across."