July 9, 2007 - Spike Lee announces WWII film
Lee plans on directing a film about the efforts of the predominately African American 92nd Infantry Division's efforts during World War II against Nazis and fascism in Italy, adapted from James McBride’s Miracle at St. Anna.
Sean Gandert, Paste Magazine - Decatur,GA,USA
March 06, 2007 -
African-Americans served with distinction in WWII
The largest concentration of African-American soldiers from Northern Kentucky in Europe during World War II served with the 92nd "Fighting Buffaloes" Infantry Division in Italy, part of the 5th Army. The 3rd Army had the next largest total concentration of African-Americans from this area.
In Gen. George Patton's command, all troops, regardless of skin color, were utilized, whether service or combat units. After the Normandy invasion, both types of units played a vital role when Patton made his famous dash across Europe. In late July 1944, once Patton had established his headquarters in France, a number of African-Americans from Northern Kentucky joined the 3rd Army.
During the fighting in Italy, the predominantly African-American 92nd Infantry Division was assigned to Gen. Mark Clark's 5th Army.
Lt. Melvin W. Walker from Covington, the son of John and Helen Walker, was a graduate of William Grant High School (1929), Ohio State University in Columbus, and Wilberforce College in Ohio, where he had taken ROTC training. Lt. Walker entered the Army in March 1941. He trained at Camp Benning, Ga., and arrived in Italy as a member of the 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division, in July 1944.
In January 1945, Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond, commanding officer of the 92nd Infantry Division, awarded Walker the Silver Star. Walker had taken a raiding party across a canal, penetrating enemy lines, smashing installations, and had then returned with German prisoners. He was credited with constantly exposing himself to enemy fire, although water and sand had ruined Walker's weapon. Later Walker was wounded in action in Italy. He was awarded several service medals including the Purple Heart.
Following the Normandy invasion, U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson applauded the African-American soldiers who had fought during the Normandy Invasion. A contemporary newspaper stated, "Military observers here pointed out that the Negro engineer and quartermaster detachments were bound to have suffered even heavier casualties than infantry troops, the reason being that their work had to be carried on under fire and without foxhole cover available to infantrymen engaged in combat operations."
George Frank Nutter and Albert Nutter Jr., the sons of Mrs. Minnie Nutter of Covington, were both drafted following their graduation from Lincoln-Grant School. During the Normandy invasion, Pvt. 1st Class Albert Nutter Jr. was a demolitions specialist and a member of Company D, 374th Engineer General Service Regiment. His brother, Frank, arrived in Italy in late July 1944 and was a member of Company E, 370th Infantry Regiment and the 92nd Infantry Division.
On Dec. 27, 1944, Frank Nutter was wounded in action in Italy. He was awarded numerous medals including the Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge.
Henry C. Lowe, a graduate of Southgate Street School in Newport, was drafted in February 1943. Pvt. Lowe went to movie projector school at Camp Bowie, Texas, and ordnance detachment school at Aberdeen, Md. Lowe arrived in England in July 1944 and not long thereafter joined Patton's 3rd Army fighting in France.
Lowe described his stay in England as very enjoyable, adding that "the English people were nice to me." As a member of the 657th Ordnance Company, Lowe had to establish ammo sites for the ever-advancing 3rd Army. He established an ammo dump just outside Paris, serving as a master records stock clerk for all ordnance received. He described his stay in France as the longest in any nation where he served. There, he learned to speak French "by listening to the people talk."
By late September, Lowe had been promoted to sergeant. He recalled that a German army officer who was a prisoner of war taught him how to speak German.
Lowe also recalled that "the advance support units had a difficult time keeping up with General Patton's 3rd Army. General Patton was always on the move and my company had to be there to keep him with ammo." Therefore, Lowe continued, "we were at Metz, the Battle of the Bulge, and Luxembourg."
James Jennings of Covington attended Lincoln-Grant School and was drafted into the Army in November 1942. He served in Italy with the 92nd Signal Company. Jennings was awarded numerous ribbons and medals including the American Theater Ribbon and the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon.
Sgt. Jennings was the field wire chief for the 92nd Infantry Division. In later years, he formed and led the Covington African-American veterans drill team that performed during the annual Memorial Day parade in Covington. Jennings was also a charter member of Hurry-Berry-Smith Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7453, organized in Covington in 1976.
James H. Robinson from Covington was killed in action on Aug. 17, 1944, while serving in France. His wife, Ardella, who lived in Covington on Sanford Street, was notified of his death on Nov. 13, 1944. Pvt. Robinson was a member of the 3918th Gasoline Supply Company. He was buried in the Brittany American Cemetery, St. James, France. He received the Purple Heart.
In May 1945, World War II ended in Europe. Most of the Northern Kentucky African-American veterans returning home in 1946 had at least an eighth-grade education; some had completed high school before the war at William Grant, the only African-American high school serving Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties.
Prior to the war, their only educational experience had been in segregated school systems. Their Army experience in Europe, while segregated, offered experiences which helped them later in civilian life.
The vast majority of returning African-American veterans found improved employment opportunities usually within the federal government. Many enjoyed the benefits of the G.I. Bill and continued their education.
The post-war veteran saw a need for change in Northern Kentucky. When change was slow in coming, many of these veterans moved to Cincinnati or out of the area, only returning for visits.
Each Monday The Post prints excerpts from the forthcoming "The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky," edited by Paul A. Tenkotte and James C. Claypool. Visit www.nkyencyclopedia.org on the Web. Cincinnati Post - OH,USA
November 11, 2006 - Honoring vets with songs, ceremonies
A thank you to veterans was expressed in the
speeches, songs and ceremonies at this morning's Veterans Day
Ecumenical Service in Rochester.
The morning service, organized by the Monroe County American Legion, began with the Posting of the Colors that placed the American flag for all to see.
Nick Ferrara, 17, of Penfield sang several songs
and hymns, concluding with "Let There Be Peace on Earth."
Carr, an Army vet, has performed in every Veterans Day for the past 20 years with the message always being the same. "To me they are heroes," Carr said about the importance of Nov. 11 celebrations.
Veterans, from past wars and present, were in the
Another of the veterans attending was David
Greene, 81, of Rochester.
Greene, who worries that returning veterans aren't getting all the medical services they need, said veterans should get their due recognition every day. James Goodman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester,NY,USA
March 1, 2006 - Tuskegee Airmen Win Congressional Gold Medal
WASHINGTON -- The Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of black American fighter pilots, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal under a bill passed in the House on Tuesday.
The bill, which passed 400-0, would be the airmen's second congressional recognition. Both chambers passed a resolution honoring the pilots last year.
"They have fought not really just for black folks. They fought for a better America. They fought for a better world," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the sponsor of the bill. "They were pioneers not only in fighting the war but showing and giving self-esteem to so many younger people."
About 1,000 black pilots were trained to fly and maintain combat airplanes at the Tuskegee, Ala., air base during World War II. Facing strong discrimination in the segregated military, the airmen flew bomber escorts. They were credited with never losing a bomber and with shooting down more than 100 enemy aircraft. Military officials estimate about 200 of the Tuskegee Airmen are alive today.
The bill requires House and Senate leaders to present a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award of the House, collectively to the Tuskegee Airmen. About 300 individuals and groups, including civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Olympian Jesse Owens, have received the honor since 1776.
A similar bill passed in the Senate last October.
Last year the House voted to tighten rules on such congressional awards - specifically eliminating the ability of groups to win the Gold Medal. That bill died in the Senate.
The Indy Channel
September 06, 2005 - Edward Peeks - Parents share in school's success
MICROSOFT founder Bill Gates and almost everybody else say that education is the key to continuing economic and social progress in this country, which is now in fierce competition with others in the global marketplace.
The No Child Left Behind federal law assumes as much about the key to continuing progress. It focuses on individual student achievement in public schools like Charleston’s Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
Once a failing school, Stonewall has turned around thanks to the principal, teachers, staff and, not least of all, parents and students. The law arms parents with the right to transfer a child from a failing school.
More importantly, I say, it encourages parents to apply the tried and tested rule that says more homework and less television equals better grades in school.
Stonewall’s success indicates that changes can be made for the better in public schools across the country beset by teaching deficiency, inept administration and student behavior problems.
Stonewall also suggests that parental influence need not break in the winds of dispute over lack of money to carry out the mandates of No Child Left Behind. Or in the winds of professional and ideological arguments.
Former Marshall University President Wade Gilley calls the Bush administration’s education program “a doomed copy of France’s socialized ideas.”
I sensed no doom last year when I had the privilege to speak at a Stonewall assembly arranged by teacher Carolyn Smoot and colleagues during Black History Month.
Nor did I see any sign of the “knuckleheads” and parents decried by Bill Cosby for showing more interest in Nikes for their children than in books.
African-American students, like others among my Stonewall listeners, were attentive to what I had to say about “Buffalo Soldiers,” the 92nd Infantry Division in the segregated military of World War II.
I recalled that every man in the First Platoon of our Company H, 366th Infantry Regiment, was either killed or wounded, except Jimmy Atkins of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the coordinated enemy attack across Europe on Dec. 26, 1944. Our battalion bore the brunt of the thrust in Italy’s Serchio Valley.
The students asked questions and showed mature interest in war and peace. They left me with the impression that they felt all blood spilled on the battlefield was red, regardless of race, creed or color.
For another thing, indications are that the achievement gap between black and white students is closing at Stonewall, as a recent study says black children in West Virginia are gaining faster than those in other states.
Let me say that one swallow doesn’t make a spring. Nor are all knuckleheads from public housing projects and low-income black families, with due respect to Cosby and his concern about a national problem.
I have it on good authority that parents in the projects have as much interest in their children learning as parents in South Hills, Buckhead in Atlanta or Boston’s Beacon Hill. Parents all over speak up for the future in face of war and natural disaster.
Peeks is a former Gazette business/labor editor. Charleston Gazette - Charleston,WV,USA
August 14, 2005 - Haunting memories of war
Sometimes Bert Connor finds himself in a Plexiglas bubble under the belly of a B-24 bomber, seated behind a pair of .50-caliber machine guns.
German fighters dive toward his plane. Bombers around him explode into fireballs.
“There goes 10 men just like a match,” Connor says.
Other times he sees the No. 1 engine coming off his plane, cables and hoses lashing at the wing, 100 octane gasoline spraying onto his turret.
The plane goes into a flat spin. Connor straps on a parachute. He salutes the pilot and bails out into a bank of clouds at 25,000 feet.
“Then you wake up, and you don’t know where you’re at,” he said.
Memories of those harrowing World War II experiences continue to haunt the 81-year-old West Columbian, who is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder at Dorn VA Medical Center.
More than half 450 patients treated by the hospital’s geropsychiatry clinic receive care for the disorder, which has become more prevalent among World War II vets. “The older you are, it seems to get more intense,” said Jessie Pearson, 83, who fought with the 92nd Infantry Division in Italy. “Many things come right back like they just happened.”
After the war, the veterans got little more than a physical exam on their way out of the military and back into civilian life. They married, raised families and carved out careers.
While society expected the vets to put the war behind them, it was daily battle for some to cope.
“I put on the uniform every day,” said 81-year-old Stan Wapinski, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “I just hid it as much as I could.”
One reason the veterans now are having to deal with the disorder is they are growing older, said Dr. Lynn Hackett, who specializes in geriatric psychiatry at the Columbia VA hospital. As they age and deal with the changes of life — retirement, the death of a spouse or friends, and declining health — many experience difficulty with war memories or handling stress, she said.
Also, more intense, vivid memories — recorded in one’s teens and 20s — are easier to recall as you age, she said. Meanwhile, it may be more difficult to remember new experiences.
While the war memories are difficult to deal with today, the men recall the incidents did not affect their ability at the time to carry on and do their duty.
“You got used to it,” said Connor, who was taken prisoner after his plane was shot down in December 1944 near the German-Czechoslovakia border.
MEMORIES THAT HAUNT
One of the toughest memories that Blythewood’s Pearson deals with is the recurring smell of war, especially the stench of decaying bodies that he once had to remove from battlefields.
“That odor comes back like it just happened,” Pearson said.
Columbia’s Wapinski recalled something he saw near Cherbourg, France, as his troop ship reached the area where D-Day was fought two months earlier in June 1944.
“I looked over the side and could see body parts in the water,” said Wapinski, who served with the 26th Infantry Division. “I said to myself that I sure was glad I didn’t come here D-Day.”
Sometimes a veteran did not have to personally witness an event for the memory to haunt him.
For example, Wapinski lost his best friend in the Army shortly after their unit started fighting.
“They were attacking a hill, and he got shot and killed,” said Wapinski, who did not see his friend die. “He was our regiment’s first casualty.”
Connor, who flew with the 456th Bomb Group, remembers the eerie scene in the squad room after returning from a mission.
Each of the crews sat at their own table. “When you’d see an empty table, you knew those boys weren’t coming back,” Connor said, his voice cracking.
Watching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on TV also opens the floodgate of memories.
Pearson, who has a grandson in the Army in Afghanistan, tries not to watch the TV news. The sight of troops in full battle gear and toting rifles reminds him too much of what he went through.
LISTEN AND CARE
Sometimes it is just hearing people talk about his generation that gets to Connor. He will find himself drifting back to the war when someone mentions Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.”
Or Connor will suffer pangs of survivor’s guilt when he hears someone mention that World War II veterans are dying off at a rate of about 1,100 a day.
“I’ll think about the guys who went over there and didn’t get a chance to come back and get a chance for a normal life,” Connor said.
The public’s growing interest in the war also has contributed to the stress, Hackett said. Many of the veterans are being asked to tell their stories, some for the first time.
“These men are self-effacing,” said Hackett, the daughter of a World War II fighter pilot and ex-prisoner of war. “They don’t like to blow their own horns.”
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder have problems with nightmares, poor concentration, disrupted sleep, flashbacks and emotional distress.
Wapinski said sometimes his body tenses up and he holds his breath when he is sleeping.
Sometimes, anti-depressant drugs help smooth out the rough spots and let the veterans sleep, Hackett said. It is also good therapy is to give them time to talk, she said.
Some of the veterans are slow to open up, so Hackett makes her office at Dorn as inviting as possible. A bulletin board is covered with the patches of military units, and airplane models are displayed to make a veteran feel more comfortable.
Hackett’s desk faces a wall, so the room feels open.
As a veteran talks, she surfs the Internet looking for maps, pictures and documents that can help tell his or her story.
“I listen and I care,” Hackett said. “But I’ll never be able to understand what they’ve went through.”The State - Columbia,SC,USA
June 18, 2005 -
140th anniversary of Juneteenth with events
April 27, 2005 - The Heroic Stories of American Military Heroes Will be Featured at World War II 60th Anniversary Ceremonies in Florence, Italy on May 5th
The battle to liberate Italy in World War II cost the lives of more than 19,000 American Service Men and Women. The stories of several of these heroes will be told on Thursday, May 5, at 11 a.m. local time at the Florence American Cemetery in Florence Italy during ceremonies honoring the 60th anniversary of the end of the conflict. The tribute has been organized by American Legion Post 50 of Pelham, New York.
Pelham, NY (PRWEB) April 27, 2005 -- The
battle to liberate Italy in World War II cost the lives of more than
19,000 American Service Men and Women. The stories of some of these
heroes will be told on Thursday, May 5, at 11 a.m. local time at the
Florence American Cemetery during ceremonies honoring the 60th
anniversary of the end of the conflict. The tribute has been initiated
by American Legion Post 50 of Pelham and will be led by the New York
State Commander, Paul Cortright. The Assistant Secretary of the United
States Navy, Richard Greco, Jr., a native of Pelham, will be the keynote
speaker at the Florence ceremonies.
Note: Five soldiers, lost in the sinking of the USS Rowan, were
from Camp Atterbury)
(Emediawire (press release) - Ferndale,WA,USA)
April 26, 2005 - Keep on truckin’ in 1918
With World War I raging, the Velie Motor Vehicle Co. of Moline answered the call to arms.John Willard , Quad City Times - Davenport,IA,USA)The company’s contribution to the war effort made the news in the spring of 1918 when troops of the 317th Motor Supply Train, an all black transportation unit commanded by white officers, arrived in Moline from Camp Funston, Kan., to pick up 10 new Velie-built, heavy-duty Liberty trucks. The detachment of 22 soldiers built their own barracks and stayed a month, attending classes on the trucks. After their training, they drove them in a convoy from Moline back to Camp Funston, a distance of 600 miles. While in Moline, the soldiers of the 317th drilled, marched in a big Liberty Loan parade and were saluted at a reception hosted by the Moline branch of the National Association of Colored People. Among those helping to make the soldiers feel at home was Matte Davis Bishop. Born in Palmyra, Mo., in the late 1870s, she hired on as a domestic after moving to Moline. Her nephew, William McAdams, of Moline, provides an article on the troops’ adventures written by W. Douglas Foster for the July-August 1999 issue of the official news letter of the Velie Register. Foster, of Bethesda, Md., is grandson of Capt. John North Douglas, commander of the 317th Motor Supply Train. His account in the Velie Register and further correspondence shed light on a little-known chapter in local history. The 317th Motor Supply Train was formed at Camp Funston in November 1917 in support of the 92nd Infantry (Buffalo) Division, one of two black combat units mobilized at a time when black and white soldiers were assigned to segregated units. In early April 1918, Douglas and 22 soldiers from his unit arrived by train in Moline to pick up their Liberty “B” trucks from the Velie Motor Vehicle Co. Founded by Willard L. Velie, a grandson of plow pioneer John Deere, the company made motor vehicles from 1909 until 1929. (See accompanying article on this page.) The truck was a standardized design intended simplify operations and maintenance at a time when 294 different truck makes and models were in use in America’s armed forces. Other manufacturers produced the Liberty B. The arrival of Douglas and the soldiers of the 317th prompted several stories in local newspapers. “Colored Troops Come to Get Velie Trucks,” an article in the Moline Dispatch of April 5, 1918, reported. In his journal, Douglas wrote on April 9, 1918: “Paraded the boys tonight in the interest of the Liberty Loan. We were the best looking outfit in the parade.” The 317th Motor Supply Train accompanied the 92nd Infantry Division to France in June 1918. The soldiers did not take their Velie Trucks, using instead other trucks supplied by the Army. Douglas retired as a colonel and died in 1947. (
February 7, 2005 - Life, death colorblind during war - Pride, equal treatment lead blacks into service
Clarence Copeland realized he was fighting a war on two fronts - against Germans in Europe and prejudice back home.
That was the day Gen. George Patton addressed members of the all-black 761st Tank Battalion when they arrived on the battlefield in November 1944.
"Men, you're the first Negro tankers to ever fight in the American Army," Patton told them. "Everyone has his eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all, your race is looking forward to you. Don't let them down and, damn you, don't let me down."
Copeland, 79, of Cleveland, recalled that Patton's remarks "made quite an impression on me. I got the sense that I was part of something."
That kind of pride, tradition and responsibility is why blacks such as Terrence Moore are still opting to go into or remain in the military.
Moore, a sergeant first class at the Army Reserve center in Warrensville Heights, could receive orders any day that send him back to Iraq. But he's ready.
"Soldiers under me depend on me," said Moore, 39, the son of a Vietnam veteran.
Blacks traditionally have joined the military in high percentages, seeing the armed services as a good career move and a way to gain skills they can later use in other careers, said Professor Charles Moskos, a military sociologist expert at Northwestern University.
But with the conflict in Iraq continuing, some are beginning to wonder whether joining the military is still a good career choice.
Nationally, the number of black soldiers began dropping off around 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1990, the same year the Gulf War began, 19 out of every 100 active duty military members were black. By 2003, the most recent census statistics available, that number had fallen to 16 out of 100.
Moskos said the war in Iraq has made recruiting more challenging, and that difficulty is expected to continue for several years. To get more soldiers, the government will most likely increase enlistment bonuses, possibly drop standards for new recruits and allow more foreigners to join the military, he said. Even some local ROTC programs have seen a decline in interest among students.
At Cleveland's Collinwood High School, only one-third of the 22 black senior students in the school's ROTC program are considering military careers, said Maj. Thomas Jenks, who runs the program. The rest are heading to college - a trend Jenks said he has noticed for at least five years.
The fighting in Iraq has made some students nervous, and a few have come to him in private to discuss it. "But we don't make a big deal about it in class," Jenks said.
Brittany Williams, a senior and one of Jenks' students, has her heart set on entering college in the fall, but her backup plan is enlisting in the military because she said money is tight in her family. "If I can't get the financial aid I need, my only option is to join the armed services," said Brittany. "It's a lot to think about. I am scared. I could be deployed."
The percentage of new black Army recruits in the northern Ohio district, which stretches from Canton to Cleveland to Toledo, dropped slightly from two years ago, said Tim Turpin, an Army spokesman.
In 2003, that district had 1,650 new recruits; 14.5 percent of them were black, Turpin said. So far this fiscal year, which began last October, there are 389 new recruits; 11.8 percent are black.
Kimberly Rockett, first sergeant of Cleveland's West Recruiting Company, oversees 20 recruiters. She, too, said recruitment is more difficult, but the military's school loan repayment program has lured some educated recruits.
"Now, we get more college-educated [recruits] because we pay $65,000 of college loans," Rockett said, also adding that some see the military as a steppingstone to other government jobs.
That was the case with James Moore, Terrence's father. In 1963, the older Moore joined the Army for financial and educational reasons after graduating from high school in Biloxi, Miss. His brother was serving in the Air Force.
James Moore was a telecommunications specialist. He spent 20 years in the military. After he retired, the skills he learned in the military helped land him a job in the communications department at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1984. He continued collecting sensitive messages for the government office, which later was made part of the Homeland Security Department.
"The military is a good option, depending on your mentality," said Terrence Moore. "The military will get what it can out of you. You should get what you can. There are good education programs here."
A. William Perry, 80, of Shaker Heights, also believes today's military offers blacks a more positive experience than the one he had during World War II - facing the same discrimination and racism that his father and uncle had encountered as soldiers in World War I.
Perry, who fought in Italy with the all-black 92nd Infantry Division, said today's military is "completely different . . . and probably more successful than any other institution in this country as far as operating on merit."
David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland, said that in recent decades, many blacks turned to the military because it developed a reputation for colorblindness.
President Truman "required equal treatment," Segal said. "That was before Brown v. Board," which is the landmark case that prohibited separate schools for blacks and whites.
Sometimes, actions spoke louder than an executive order in changing attitudes.
Clarence Copeland recalled how his 761st Tank Battalion went from being regarded as a "bastard outfit" - used for drawing enemy fire - to "a unit that got so good they started asking for us."
The unit, which battled across six countries in 183 days of combat, suffered nearly 50 percent casualties but ultimately was honored with a Presidential Unit Citation for "their indomitable fighting spirit and devotion to duty," among other accolades.
Copeland said the prejudice and discrimination he had encountered in the military of the 1940s, shared by six brothers who also went into the service, "didn't surprise me - I grew up in Louisiana."
"It wasn't that I accepted it. I thought that's the way life was."
Nonetheless, Copeland said he would serve his country all over again.
And he said he learned something that has held true ever since the day he heard Patton's talk to the troops.
"They thought we couldn't fight, that we were scared. We proved them wrong," Copeland said. "And if it wasn't for all the Negro units back then, I don't believe you'd have the army you have today."(Ebony Reed and Brian E. Albrecht, The Plain Dealer)
January 4, 2005 - Veterans Urge D.C. Vote in House. Army Reservists Honored at City Event After Return From Iraq
December 8, 2004 - WWII museum would honor the service of black soldiers.
Mobile man announces plans to raise $15 million to build facility in Prichard
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Plans to raise some $15 million for a museum to be built in Prichard honoring black soldiers who served in World War II were announced Tuesday.
"My goal is to within five years have a $15 million project built here in Prichard," Eddie Irby Jr., president of the newly formed Alabama Chapter of the 92nd Division Buffalo Soldiers Association, said. Irby, 58, a Mobile business consultant, made the announcement at a Prichard Public Library gathering of several black veterans of World War II, who served in segregated units and suffered Jim Crow affronts.
One of the former soldiers, Washington C. Callier, 82, of Mobile, said he was one of the first black tank commanders in Europe during World War II. "It was rough at times," Callier said. "We didn't get the same treatment that the white soldiers got and promotions were slow."
Irby said the fund-raising campaign will begin in January, and a bank account will be set up to handle any contributions to the project. A feasibility study will have to be done, and the association will be looking at several sites in Prichard, Irby said. He said he envisions building a museum on six or seven acres of land to house uniforms, medals, photographs, letters and other memorabilia of black World War II veterans.
Irby noted that although blacks were often treated badly by white service members in World War II, they served honorably. Describing the black World War II veterans he knows in the Mobile area, Irby said, "These guys have no arrest record, have never been on drugs and became pillars of the community."
The association is named after the Army's famed all-black 92nd Infantry Division -- the Buffalo Division -- which served in Europe and North Africa during World War II. The division was named after the black "Buffalo Soldiers" who protected western settlers during an era that began just after the Civil War.
The 92nd's original elements, spearheaded by the 370th Regiment, earned 542 Bronze Stars, 82 Silver Stars, 12 Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Service Crosses and one Distinguished Service Medal in combat in World War II.
Irby said he was inspired to establish a museum for black soldiers of World War II because of his late uncle, Liddell Perry, who was highly decorated for his heroism while serv ing with the 92nd during that war. He lamented that he has only one museum item from his uncle's memorabilia and that is a photo of him with his unit. Irby asked that anyone who has World War II items for the museum to call the association's office at 344-0279 . Or, to call toll free from out of the area, dial 1-866-344-0274.
Irby also said he wants to get some prominent people to make up a board of directors to oversee the fund raising and he hopes to get a federal grant to help fund the museum effort. (GEORGE WERNETH, Mobile Register, AL)
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