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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Harlem Hellfighters
In Response To: Re: Harlem Hellfighters ()

I always enjoy the comments made by so many but yours are so insightful. I would like to share with all of you some of the letters and talks that I was very fortunate to have with soldiers like my grandfather and many others who served in the army from the late 1880's through the mid 1920's so often what is lift out of the history of that period is how these men and women felt about there country and the hope for the future they had for us there children and grandchildren. Many years ago when I thought I knew everything I asked my grandfather why he served so long in the army for a country that did not appreciate him as a person and a soldier? His answer was simple and one that took me many long years to appreciate, he said "The army gave him the only part of the American dream that the nation would let him share in and that he did not regret one second of his 40 years of military service."You see my granddad joined the army in 1887 at the age of 13, he was a poor from Tennessee with no education at all just a big strong kid. What did the army give that was so much? 1st it gave him an education over the next 10 years he learned to read and write a step up in the world. 2nd It gave him job that would last 40 years and have the prospect of a good retirement, 3rd he had the opportunity to serve all over the United States from the far west of Arizona and New Mexico,with the 9th cavalry in the 1880's Nebraska in the early 1890's he was with the 10th cavalry in Cuba in 1898 he served with the 24th Infantry in 1899 to 1902 in the Philippine's he would serve three tours of duty in the island's back with the 10th he would serve in Mexico 1916-1917 and along with many senior nco's would serve with the 92nd Infantry Division in France. In 1927 he would retire as 1st sergeant of Troop A, 10th cavalry. What army gave this poor colored boy from Tennessee was the chance to become more than what he was or could be as a civilian in Tennessee in the 1880's. I would like to share with all of you some his and the thoughts of many soldiers of that period in there own words. I will start with some words from Vance Hunter Marchbanks, Sr., one of my grandfathers very good friends. Marchbanks writes"In 1895 I turned my back to the southland and fram forever! I shall never forget my first impression of an army post. It was very early in the morning when the train from St.Louis made a somewhat abrupt stop at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. It was on this third day of August, 1895, the sun came up bright and hot. The lazy Mississippi was just ebbing along by the reservation. And as I climed the long flight of steps that lead to the parade ground, I glanced back over my right shoulder to obseve the :Father of Waters" as it slowly flowed southward. For a moment from the top of the steps, I stood and gazed at the Fishermeb's boats as they ambled along the opposite bank, and watched the smoke of the train as it disappeared in the distance. The aroma of frying bacon and roasting coffee oozing from the troop kitchens filled the air with a fragreance peculiar to an army camp. Once the smell gets up one's nose. it lingers indefinitely. More than forty years have passed since my first impression of an Army Post, but close contact, over this long period, puts me in a position to appreciate the many educational and practical advantages inceident to an Army carrier." If you want more will follow.



18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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