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4 Training at Fort Huachuca The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II were in segregated units with white officers who did not want to be there. They were subject to discrimination at home. They served nobly and they served with courage. They were treated as second-­ class citizens. They are an example of service and courage that should inspire us now. Colin Powell When Johnston, Lancaster, Moore, Perry, Hairston, Stephenson, Burke, McCaffrey , and all the other members of the 92nd Division arrived at Fort Huachuca in April and May 1943, they found themselves in a remote area. Fort Huachuca, a place with deep roots for black soldiers, is located in southeastern Arizona at the base of the Huachuca Mountains near Bisbee, seventy-­ three miles southeast of Tucson and fifteen miles from the border with Mexico. The fort was home to the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers of the nineteenth century who squared off with the Chiricahua Apache. World War I Buffalo Soldiers also trained at Fort Huachuca. The commanding officer of the 92nd Division at Fort Huachuca, General Edward “Ned” Almond, had a melodic South­ ern accent, but behind the South­ ern charm was an unreconstructed racist. He was a disastrous choice as the leader of the all-­ black division. When General Almond spoke at the activation of the 92nd Division on Oc­ to­ ber 15, 1942, he pointed to the symbol of the buffalo: If you visit our headquarters you will see the living symbol of this division, the Black Buffalo. You must put the same pulsating, powerful life into our giant, this battle unit which we now call the 92nd division. Courage to face the facts and to conquer the foe is of paramount importance . Before considering a few factors which influence our creation of an efficient, fighting division, we must state our training objective. This objective is to produce a battlefield unit; it is devoid of racial, po­liti­cal or economic considerations. We desire to win the fight against the enemy which we are to meet on the battlefield. He who injects controversial ideas in our midst brands himself a fifth columnist bent upon giving comfort to the Training at Fort Huachuca / 27 enemy.There is no worse crime than to sow dissension, discord, and disloyalty in the midst of a military unit. I promise fairness to every officer and man in this division, and I promise promotion for merit alone.1 Almond pledged his best and assured them that they would measure up to the task. He asked for “their loyalty, energy, and determination to labor unceasingly,” and closed by saying, “You must sweat and give your blood; there is no other road to victory.”2 General Almond was born in Luray, Virginia, in 1892. He married Margaret Crook before he went off to fight in World War I. He served with the 4th Division in France from June 1918 into the occupation period. From 1919 through 1928, he taught military science at Marion Institute, Alabama, with a year off to attend the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1924. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1930. Almond had a tour of duty in the Philippines and then attended the Army War College in 1934. From 1934 to 1938, he was with the Intelligence Division of the General Staff. He also completed the course at the U.S. Navy War College in 1940. Almond was assigned as assistant division commander of the other all-­black division, the 93rd Blue Helmets from April to Sep­ tem­ ber 1942. Then he became Commander of the re-­activated 92nd Division on Oc­to­ber 15, 1942. By that time, he had only had one month’s experience as commander of a combat unit.3 Almond believed that his friend Lloyd Brown, the G-­3 of Army Ground Forces to General George Marshall, recommended him for the post. Marshall probably assumed that General Hall, who commanded the 93rd and was from Mississippi; General William Spence, artilleryman, who was from North Carolina; and General Almond from Virginia, all South­ern white commanding officers, understood South­ ern customs and “Negro capabilities.” Lieutenant General William P. Ennis Jr. confirmed that General Almond held racist views. Ennis thought that the only reason the Virginia Military Institute men were chosen to lead the 92nd was that they presumably knew more about “handling Negroes than anybody else.” But he could not...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817386207
Related ISBN
9780817317683
MARC Record
OCLC
809774624
Pages
228
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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