Black History Month
Black History Month is a time for highlighting the many accomplishments and contributions that African-Americans have made to the scientific, educational and social justice fabric of our country. Many African-Americans have fought proudly for our great nation.
Join us in commemorating their prestigious legacies & achievements that broke the ceiling for generations of African-Americans; past, present & future.
369th Infantry Harlem Hell Fighters
The 369th Harlem Hell Fighters were an all-black regiment under the command of mostly white officers, including commander Colonel William Hayward.
General John J. Pershing assigned the 369th to the 16th Division of the French Army, where they helped repel the German offensive and launched a counteroffensive. The Harlem Hellfighters fought at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood, with a total of 191 days in combat– longer than any other American unit in the war.
“My men never retire, they go forward or they die,” said Colonel Hayward. Indeed, the 369th was the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine.
The extraordinary valor of the 369th earned them fame in Europe and America.
Benjamin O Davis Jr., Commander of the famous Tuskegee Airmen
This Air Force general was awarded his fourth star in 1988, making him a member of that service’s small circle of highest-ranking officers. However, as the first African-American officer to receive this honor in retirement, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. is a member of an even smaller group. Founder and commander of the Tuskegee Airmen, 33-year veteran of three wars, and son of the Army’s first black general, Davis is “a great warrior, a great officer, and a great American,” as Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said when Davis received his fourth star.
Davis Jr. was determined to fly, but after four years of being “shunned” (spoken to only for official reasons) as West Point’s only black cadet, he found that even his standing as 35th in the 276-member Class of 1936 could not convince the Army Air Corps to allow him to enter flight training.
Although critics reported that “the Negro type has not the proper reflexes to make a first-class fighter pilot,” Davis used a combination of political diplomacy and professional action to convince detractors that his men were more qualified than some and braver than most. Their March 24, 1945, escort mission to Berlin, resulting in three direct kills and no loss of friendly bombers, is legendary.
Doris “Dorie” Miller, WWII Navy Cross Recipient
Doris Miller, who went by “Dorie,” was one of the first heroes of World War II and was awarded the Navy Cross for actions during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. His face was even used on a recruitment poster.
While at the side of his Captain on the bridge, Miller, despite enemy strafing and bombing and in the face of a serious fire, assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety, and later manned and operated a machine gun directed at enemy Japanese attacking aircraft until ordered to leave the bridge. Miller was killed in action two years later when his ship, the USS Liscome Bay, a Casablanca-class escort carrier, took a Japanese torpedo.
Margaret E. Bailey
In 1964, Margaret E. Bailey, Army Nurse Corps, was the first nurse to be promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1970, she went on to become the first black nurse to hold the rank of colonel.
Ret. Major General Marcelite J. Harris, USAF
In 1995, Brig. Gen. Marcelite Harris, USAF, was promoted to major general, the first black woman to attain this rank.
Capt. Diane Lindsay
In 1969, Capt. Diane Lindsay, Army Nurse Corps, was the first black nurse to receive the Soldier’s Medal for Heroism.
Diane M. Lindsay volunteered with the US Army Nurse Corps as a First Lieutenant at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam, where she convinced a confused US soldier to surrender a grenade, which he had pulled the pin and was preparing to throw within the hospital. Lindsay’s actions saved the lives of numerous people and earned her the Soldier’s Medal, she was the first black woman to receive the award. Lindsay was eventually promoted to captain.
We Proudly Salute African-Americans in Our Military