Left - Howard P. Perry, the first African-American to enlist
in the U.S. Marines. Breaking a 167-year-old barrier, the U.S. Marine Corps
started enlisting African-Americans on June 1, 1942. The first class of
1,200 volunteers began their training three months later as members of
the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Mid
- Swearing-in of William Baldwin, the first African-American Navy recruit
for General Service. June 2, 1942. Right - Reginald Brandon, the
first African-American graduate of the Radio Training School of the Maritime
Commission. Upon assignment he had the rank of ensign.
Left - A trio of recruits run the rugged obstacle course at Camp
Lejeune while training to become fighting Leathernecks in the U.S. Marine
Corps. Their excellence resulted in an expanded Navy recruitment program.
April 1943. Mid - An officer returns the salute as he passes cadet
fighter pilots lined up during review at Tuskegee Field, Alabama. Tuskegee
Airmen flew 1,500 missions over Europe and never lost any of the bomber
pilots they were assigned to protect. Right - Two Marine recruits
in a light tank during training in mechanized warfare at Camp Lejeune.
The War in Europe
Left - Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., the first African-American
general in the U.S. Army, watches a Signal Corps crew erecting poles, somewhere
in France. August 8, 1944. His son, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., graduated from
West Point and commanded the Tuskegee Airmen. Mid - A bazooka-man
cuts loose at a German machine-gun nest some 300 yards distant. This African-American
combat patrol advanced three miles north of Lucca, Italy (furthermost point
occupied by American troops) to make the attack. September 7, 1944. Right
- Members of an African-American mortar company of the 92nd Division pass
the ammunition and fire non-stop at the Germans near Massa, Italy. This
company was credited with knocking out several machine-gun nests. November
Left - The 'target for today' in Germany is revealed to an African-American
P-51 Mustang fighter-bomber group during a pre-flight briefing at an air
base in Italy. The men are members of the 15th U.S. Army Air Force whose
planes fly as part of the Mediterranean Allied Air Force. September 1944.
Mid - The P-51 pilots listen intently during their briefing. Right
- Staff Sgt. Alfred D. Norris, crew chief of the fighter group, closes
the canopy of a P-51 Mustang for his pilot, Capt. William T. Mattison,
operations officer of the squadron.
Left - On Easter morning, William E. Thomas and Joseph Jackson
will roll specially prepared 'eggs' on Hitler's lawn. March 10, 1945. Mid
- Crews of U.S. light tanks stand-by awaiting the call to clean out scattered
Nazi machine-gun nests in Coburg, Germany. April 25, 1945. Right
- A captured Nazi, wearing civilian clothes, sits in a jeep at south gate
of the walled city of Lucca, Italy, awaiting removal to a rear area. September
The Pacific War
Left - Aboard a Coast Guard-manned transport somewhere in the
Pacific, these African-American Marines prepare to face the fire of Japanese
gunners. February 1944. Mid - On Bougainville, African-American
troops of the 24th Infantry Division wait to advance behind a tank assault
on the Japanese along Empress Augusta Bay. 1944. Right - A patrol
cautiously advances through the jungle in Japanese-held territory off the
Numa-Numa Trail on Bougainville. These members of the 93rd Infantry Division
were among the first African-American foot soldiers to go into combat in
the South Pacific. May 1, 1944.
Left - 1st Sergeant Rance Richardson, a veteran of two World
Wars, takes a break along the Numa-Numa Trail. April 4, 1944. Mid -
On call to general quarters, five steward's mates stand at their battle
stations, manning a 20mm anti-aircraft gun aboard a Coast Guard frigate
in the southwest Pacific. Right - U.S. Army trucks wind along the
side of the mountain over the Ledo supply road from India into Burma.
Honors and Awards
Left - Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, U.S. Third Army commander,
pins the Silver Star on Private Ernest A. Jenkins of New York City for
his conspicuous gallantry in the liberation of Chateaudun, France. October
13, 1944. Mid - Brig. Gen. Robert N. Young, Commanding General of
the Military District of Washington, assists Melba Rose, aged 2, daughter
of Mrs. Rosie L. Madison, in viewing the Silver Star posthumously awarded
to her father, 1st Lt. John W. Madison, of the 92nd Infantry Division,
who was killed in action in Italy. Right - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
pins the Navy Cross on Doris Miller at a ceremony on board a warship in
Pearl Harbor. May 27, 1942.
Left - Staff Sgt. Timerlate Kirven (on left) and Cpl. Samuel
J. Love, Sr., the first African-American Marines decorated by the famed
Second Marine Division. They received Purple Hearts for wounds received
in the Battle of Saipan. Mid - A gun crew of six African-Americans
who were given the Navy Cross for standing by their gun when their ship
was damaged during an enemy attack off the Philippines. Right -
Pfc. Luther Woodward, a member of the Fourth Ammunition Company, admires
the Bronze Star awarded to him for "his bravery, initiative and battle-cunning."
April 17, 1945. The award was later upgraded to the Silver Star.
Left - The oath is administered to five new Navy nurses commissioned
in New York. Phyllis Mae Dailey, the Navy's first African-American nurse,
is second from the right. March 8, 1945. Mid - Lt.(jg.) Harriet
Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, the first African-American Waves to
be commissioned. December 21, 1944. Right - Lt. Florie E. Gant tends
a young patient at a prisoner-of-war hospital somewhere in England. October
Left - Juanita E. Gray, a former domestic worker, learns to operate
a lathe at the War Production and Training Center in Washington, D.C. She
was one of hundreds of African-American women trained at the center. Mid
- Welders Alivia Scott, Hattie Carpenter, and Flossie Burtos are about
to weld their first piece of steel on the ship SS George Washington
Carver at Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California. 1943. Right
- Auxiliaries Ruth Wade (on left) and Lucille Mayo demonstrate their ability
to service trucks at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. December 8, 1942.
Postnote - On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order
9981 ending segregation in the United States Armed Forces.
Read more at the
Truman Library Web site