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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

WWII 92nd "Buffalo " Division in Italy

As Lt. Joseph Henry Hairston relates in the widely read, "The Hairstons, by Henry Wiencek, General George Marshall, a Virginian selected General Edward "Ned" Almond, a fellow Virginian, and like Marshall a graduate of VMI,to command the 92nd Division. Almond was not a field commander,but a staff officer, whose previous combat experience amounted to exactly one month." Almond himself stated the reasons Gen. Marshall chose him: "I being from Virginia, had an understanding of Southern customs and Negro capabilities." "For the black troops the choice was disastrous.
When the 92nd arrived in Italy, in October 1944, it was immediately sent up to the front line, according to Hairston, who was a newly minted 2nd Lt.,fresh out of O.C.S.. "The troubles that would dog the Division, surfaced immediately: ALMOND's staff sent one of the lead infantry regiments to the front without AMMUNITION! The mix up arose from Almond's policy of not allowing black troops to have live ammunition unless absolutely necessary- he simply didn't trust them." They had been told by a Col. at Fort Huachuca, that his yardstick would be a body count- not the enemy's, but theirs. He declared, "You people constitute ten percent of the population of this country, and I'm going to see to it that you suffer ten percent of the casualties. They deployed the 92nd thinly along a front stretching for more than twenty miles. The rest is history.
"Ned" Almond and his cadre of top officers had all been promoted when the Korean War began, despite their inadequate performances in WW2. Almond served as chief of staff to General Douglas McArthur and was the Commander of X Corps, one of the largest combat units in Korea, a multi-racial and multinational unit. I was under X Corps and we had Turks, Ethiopians,etc. The history of the 92nd repeated itself in the history of X Corps. Shelby Stanton, a Military historian stated, "In the end, the Army paid a high price for promoting Almond." His troops once again paid in blood. Almond flew in by helicopter to confer with Maj.General Oliver P. Smith, Commander of the First Marine Division in Hagaru who was almost encircled by the Red Chinese Army and the North Koreans,about how he could get out. He told gen. Smith, I suggest that you destroy all your artillery,burn your supplies and let every man go out on foot by himself. I have no doubt that a lot will get through to the south. There was a stunned silence. Then gen. Smith said very quietly, (to his superior officer)but firmly, "General ,I don't ACCEPT that sugestion at all! The First Marine Division is going to fight it's way out, we're going to take all our equimpment and wounded and as many men as we can. If we can't get out that way, this division will never fight as a unit again!" "ned" Almond said, "Alright general" ,"then left and we never saw him again."
We were attached to the First Marine Division, 5th regiment about two months after this meeting and their "attack to the rear" and we were surrounded by the Chinese and North Koreans for a month in Hongchon, "Operation Ripper". We had WW2 non-insulated leather boots, WW2 uninsulated jackets, etc. in 30 degree below weather. I gave an extra jacket I had to a 5th Regt. Marine.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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