Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ready And Forward (Updated)

Retired 1st Sgt. Mark Matthews, 111, one of the last of the nation's legendary Buffalo Soldiers, died of pneumonia Sept. 6 at Fox Chase Nursing Home in Washington.

Sgt. Matthews, who also was the oldest Buffalo Soldier, was heir to a proud military heritage that originated with the black soldiers who fought in the Indian wars on the Western frontier. Historians say that the Cheyenne, Kiowa and Apache tribes bestowed the appellation because the soldiers' black, curly hair reminded them of a buffalo's mane.

One of 1st Sgt. Mark Matthews's duties was assisting the 1916 search for Pancho Villa in Mexico. (Family Photo)
(Credits: Original link - Free Republic, Story, image and caption text - Washington Post)

I particularly liked this quote from the WaPo article: "I did it all," Sgt. Matthews told The Washington Post a few years ago. "Yes, I was there."

Some history of the Buffalo Soldiers, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, here re-posted. These, and more recent segregated military units served with distinction up through World War II.

CharlesHall.jpgThe 99th Pursuit Squadron is well known, from the HBO film The Tuskogee Airmen.

On July 21, 1943, Charles B. Hall became the first black fighter pilot to down an enemy aircraft. (image credit)


Less well-remembered is the 761st Tank Battalion,
(image credit)


the USS Mason,
(image credit)


and the USS PC1264.
(image credit)

To paraphrase Sgt. Matthews... They did it all, they were there.

* * * Original Post * * * * * *

From the Booker Rising blog comes a link to the St. Petersburg Times article about a reunion of Buffalo Soldiers. This reunion was for members and decendants of members of the all-black Army units during the period when these units were segregated.

[...] They were named by Cheyenne warriors in 1867 because they fought with the ferocity of a cornered buffalo. The nickname carried through the years, and members of the 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association have accepted it proudly. [...]
And proud they should be, fighting both for the United States, and against segregation and racism. Although no longer all-black units, the 9th and 10th still serve with distinction in Iraq today. I salute them all.

For those interested, here is some history of the units.

On June 28, 1866, an Act of Congress authorized the creation of six regiments of Black troops, two of cavalry and four of infantry. These troops went on to play a major role in the history of the West, as the "Buffalo Soldiers."

ninth.jpg(Image and Text Credits: The Buffalo Soldiers)

On September 21, 1866, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was activated at Greenville, Louisiana under command of Colonel Edward Hatch.



and the 10th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas under command of Colonel Benjamin Grierson.

And it turns out that the Buffalo Soldiers were unknowingly ahead of their time, as among their ranks was a female soldier. Read the story of Cathay Williams.

(Trackback to Mudville Gazette)

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