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Mon, 07.26.1948

Black History and the American Korean War, a story

*Black History and the American Korean War is affirmed on this date in 1948. U.S. President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the armed forces on that date. Although he ordered the desegregation of the military, several all-black units participated in the early stages of what some call "the forgotten war." Highpoints of all-black units in the Korean War include:

-- The black 24th Infantry Regiment participated in all significant operations across the Korean peninsula, from the defense and breakout at the Pusan Perimeter in 1950 to the United Nations counter-offensive that stabilized near the 38th parallel in late 1951.

-- The black 231st Transportation (Truck) Battalion was the first National Guard unit to deploy to Korea.

-- The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) was the first and only all-black Ranger unit in the history of the U.S. Army. The Soldiers were volunteers who deployed to Korea for seven months in late 1950. During their time in-country, they gallantly defended a critical railroad running through Tanyang Pass during a night infiltration by communist forces. They also performed the first airborne assault in Ranger history near Munsan-ni on March 23, 1951.

Highpoints of African Americans in the ground war in Korea:

-- Two African American servicemembers of the 234th Infantry Regiment were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions above and beyond the call of duty:

-- Pfc. William H. Thompson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on August 6, 1950, when he provided covering fire for his platoon despite sustaining mortal injuries.

-- Sgt. Cornelius H. Charlton was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading a charge against Hill 543 near Chipo-ri on June 2, 1951. Charlton refused medical treatment for wounds received and single-handedly disabled an enemy machine-gun emplacement before succumbing to his injuries.

-- Roscoe Robinson Jr., a 1951 West Point graduate, was the first African American in the Army to hold the rank of general. During the Korean War, he served as a platoon leader, rifle company commander, and recipient of the Bronze Star.

-- Julius Becton Jr. rose from private to lieutenant general, fighting in three wars during his nearly 40-year Army career. Becton was awarded the Silver Star for leading his platoon in an attack on Hill 201 near the Naktong River.

-- On July 20, 1950, Army Capt. Charles Bussey, the commander of the all-black 77th Engineer Co., was awarded the Silver Star for his action at the battle of Yechon.

-- Ens.  Jesse L. Brown became the first African American aviator in the history of the U.S. Navy. He was killed in action on December 4, 1950, while providing close air support at Chosin Reservoir. Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

-- Second Lt. Frank E. Petersen Jr. became the Marine Corps' first African American pilot and flew with Attack Fighter Squadron 212 (Devil Cats). Petersen became the first African American Marine flag officer and retired in 1988 as a lieutenant general.

-- Air Force Capt. Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. flew 101 missions in the P-51 Mustang and F-80 Shooting Star. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in Korea. James became the first African American to reach a four-star rank in the armed services.

To Have a Military Career

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I do not want to stand Beside you at the feast; You eat of rot. Or walk Beside you; your pace is not my pace. To follow You or be... MY OWN HALLELUJAHS by Zack Gilbert.
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