Fred Funston was too short to get into the United States Military Academy in 1884 (he being only 5 feet 5 inches tall). But that did not stop him, he went to the University of Kansas worked on the railroad, as a reporter and then developed an interest in the sciences. Working for the Department of Agriculture, he came to Alaska in 1893 and described crossing the Chilkoot Pass with the Smithsonian expedition:
“we…divided our goods into seven packs and engaged five men and two women to carry these loads to the summit of the pass… The Indians supported the loads on their backs by the aid of deerskin bands, passing across the forehead. Several children carried on their backs light loads, consisting of food and cooking utensils for the use of the Indians, while two of the dogs also wore packs.” from Over the Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon, Scribners, November 1896.
After leaving here he joined the Cuban Revolutionary army and fought for independence there – see him in the Cuban uniform above.
Funston later fought in the U.S. Army in the Phillipines in the Spanish American war of 1898. For his bravery he was awarded the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers and the Medal of Honor. Fort Funston in the San Francisco area is named for him. On this day, February 19, 1917 while relaxing in the lobby of a San Antonio, Texas hotel, Funston was listening to an orchestra play The Blue Danube Waltz. After commenting, “How beautiful it all is,” he collapsed from a massive painful heart attack and died. He was 52 years old.