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March had little schooling in the small lumber towns of South Alabama where his father found work. There wasn't enough money for him to complete college, so he joined his sister in New York and, after America entered World War I in April 1917, volunteered for the United States Marines. Philip Beidler, a Vietnam War veteran who has studied the literature of war, tells us the Marines saw some of the heaviest fighting of that war and took a high number of casualties. March's heroism at the battle of Blanc Mont in October 1918 earned him three decorations for bravery, including the French Croix de Guerre, the Army Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross.

Meantime his ambition to be a writer was taking root. His niece Susan Looney recalls his first literary effort to be performed was written while her uncle was studying in France while still in Europe with the army. Its title: "To be Loose in Toulouse."