Joyce Kilmer was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short –- and often parodied -- poem titled "Trees" (1913),
Though a prolific poet, Kilmer was also a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. At the time of his deployment to Europe during World War I, Kilmer was considered the leading American Roman Catholic poet and lecturer of his generation.
He declined a commission and served as a sergeant in military intelligence.
On 30 July 1918, Kilmer volunteered to accompany Major "Wild Bill" Donovan – later the founder of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA -- when Donovan's battalion (1–165th Infantry) was sent to lead the day's attack.
Kilmer headed a scouting party to find the position of a German machine gun. When his comrades found him later, they thought he was peering over the edge of a little hill, where he had crawled for a better view.
He did not answer their call, shot through the head by a sniper.