Fighting for Freedom: African Americans in the United States Military (Part 2)

Harlem Hellfighters

The 369th Infantry Regiment was the first all-black U.S. combat unit to be deployed overseas during WWI. Since there was no official combat role for African-Americans during WWI, General Pershing assigned them to the French Army. They took part in the Second Battle of the Marne, and they were the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine River in 1918. They never lost ground in their battles, and none of their men were taken prisoner. The unit was famous throughout Europe, and is largely responsible for the introduction of Jazz music to the continent.

Harlem Hellfighters

Also called the Black Rattlers

Tuskegee Airmen

With Red Tails out in theaters, the Tuskegee Airmen are a hot topic at the moment. These men were the first African-American military aviators, and the only African-American pilots to see active combat during World War II. Out of 179 escort missions, only 27 of their escorted aircraft were shot down by the enemy. The average number of lost aircraft in the 15th Air Force’s other units was 46.

Tuskegee Airmen

6888th Central Post Directory Battalion

What’s so great about a Mail Battalion? These ladies were tasked with sorting and sending mail that had been packed into a warehouse (floor to ceiling) and left to sit for at least a year. Families and friends didn’t know if their loved one was alive or dead. I have a friend who served in Iraq, and he would constantly post on his Facebook profile, so in this time of email and social media, it’s hard to imagine not knowing where someone is for a whole year (inb4 missing persons cases). The 6888th was given six months to get all the mail in that warehouse moved out and into the hands of their intended recipients. By working 24 hours per day, in rotating 8-hour shifts, they completed their mission in half the time they were given.

Finally Equal

In October 1951, the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, which had served in four wars, was disbanded. It was the final all-black regiment, and its disbandment was the last step to full integration within the United States Army.

Categories: Military History | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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