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Willie Rogers – Last Tuskegee Airman

Rest in peace, Mr Rogers…

Willie Rogers, the last member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, dead at 101

Rogers was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007

Willie Rogers, 99, who is considered one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, reflects on his service and his life at home as he will turn 100 years-old on March 4, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rogers, the oldest surviving member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, has died at the age of 101. Rogers died Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, said Rev. Kenny Irby, the pastor at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The last member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Willie Rogers of St. Petersburg, Florida, died Monday. He was 101 years old. The Airmen were members of the first African-American military aviation squadron in U.S. armed forces history.

“He didn’t like a lot of fuss,” said Clinton Glover, Rogers’ nephew. “He was humble. That’s who he was.”

Rogers was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as a member of the logistics team in the 100th Air Engineer Squad and the Red Tail Angels. During a mission in Italy, Rogers was shot in the stomach and leg by German soldiers in January 1943. He spent three months in a London hospital recovering from his wounds.

On April 29, 1945, following Germany’s surrender and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, Rogers, along with other American troops, took inventory of the camp.

Former President George W. Bush welcomed the Tuskegee Airmen’s 300 surviving members to the White House in 2007 and awarded each of them the Congressional Gold Medal. Neither Rogers nor his daughters, Felicia Rogers and Veronica Williams, attended the ceremony, and they didn’t even know about their father’s participation with the group until 2012.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that “part of the reason for that silence, he’d tell his family, was because his work was on the ground in logistics and administration, not in the sky where the heroics took place.”

Six years later in November 2013, Rogers received his Congressional Gold Medal. Besides that award, Rogers’ portrait was placed in the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and he received the keys to the cities of Lakeland and St. Petersburg, Florida.

“He would always say there were many who deserved attention more, but were not here to receive it,” Williams said.

Rogers lived in St. Petersburg after the war and opened his own business — Rogers Radio Sales and Services. He was born in Apalachicola, Florida, in 1915.

From 1942 to 1946, approximately 15,000 men and women participated in the Tuskegee Institute during World War II. The U.S. military trained civilians as part of the Tuskegee Experience, starting in May 1940 when students completed their pilot training program.

The Tuskegee Airmen would turn out to be one of the most successful fighter units in U.S. history — fighting in more than 200 combat missions and never losing a single bomber to enemy fire. No other group can claim that achievement.

Although African-Americans were often discriminated against while serving in the military, Rogers was still able to put that into perspective.

“He could give dates, names, locations of events from the war,” Williams said. “But he didn’t like to give specifics about what occurred to him. He saw things that were bad. And he experienced treatment because he was African-American that wasn’t fair.

“He recognized that we as a people, and he as a black man, have come a long way, but that there is still more to go. But in God’s eyes, there is no color, he’d say. We are all one and he lived by the greatest commandment — to love one another.”

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in Black History

 

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A Powerful Political Ad By Clinton

My late Father in Law was on the beach on D-Day in Normandy. One of my late Uncles was hit driving landing craft onto the beach at Anzio, and would later be part of the infantry which freed several of the Nazi death camps. Another Uncle served in the Philippines…So Trump’s line about McCain “Being a hero only because he was captured” is particularly insulting.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in The Clown Bus

 

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A History of Different Justice in WWII Military

Not surprisingly, the US Military in WWII had an entirely different set of rules for non-whites.

Were These U.S. Soldiers Executed Because of Their Race?

Of the U.S. servicemen put to death for crimes committed during the war, 79 percent were black. While their crimes were heinous, were they given harsher sentences?

Shortly after midnight on March 12, 1943, a U.S. Army chaplain and two military policemen walked into a cell in Shepton Mallet Prison, a grim, centuries-old facility in southwest England. The two MPs handcuffed the cell’s sole occupant and, with the clergyman trailing behind muttering prayers, escorted the prisoner down a hallway, through a crude wooden door, and onto a sturdy wooden gallows built within a two-story brick room.

The MPs halted the prisoner a few feet from the square trap door in the floor of the gallows and 73-year-old Thomas Pierrepoint, one of England’s official executioners, quickly stepped forward and with the help of his nephew Albert wrapped restraints around the prisoner’s upper torso and legs. The condemned man stood quietly as an American officer read both the charges against him and the sentence that was about to be carried out. The formalities over, the elder Pierrepoint slipped a white linen hood over the prisoner’s head, moved him into position atop the trap door, placed a simple slip-noose around his neck, then stepped back and quickly pulled the large handle that opened the trap and dropped the man to his death.

Though the execution mirrored in most details the hangings of Axis spies and Allied traitors during World War II, the man who died that day almost exactly 73 years ago was neither. He was, in fact, a 21-year-old U.S. Army private from Alabama named David Cobb, and he was the first of 18 American service members put to death at the British-owned but U.S.-operated prison between 1943 and 1945.

From December 7, 1941, through February 22, 1946, a total of 141 U.S. military personnel were executed for crimes committed during the war years—one for desertion and the rest for murder, rape or both. Seventy of those men were put to death in the European Theater of Operations, which encompassed the British Isles, with the largest single number meeting their end at Shepton Mallet.

Given that more than 405,000 American service members died of all causes in World War II, the executions conducted at the forbidding British prison would be little more than a grim historical footnote were it not for the fact that they were representative of a larger and very disturbing trend: Of all the men put to death in the European Theater 55, or 79 percent, were black, as were 11 of the 18 men executed at Shepton Mallet. Simply put, African Americans were disproportionately represented among those executed in Britain, just as they were in the total number of U.S. service members put to death theater-wide.

First opened in 1625, by 1930 Shepton Mallet was deemed by British prison authorities to be unnecessary and was put into caretaker status. The 1939 outbreak of World War II prompted His Majesty’s Government to reopen the facility, which was initially used to incarcerate British military prisoners. However, the increasing numbers of U.S. service members arriving in the British Isles after December 1941—a number that eventually reached some 1.2 million—made it necessary to establish a large, central prison that could replace the unit stockades established to house Army and Army Air Forces troops who had committed serious military offenses such as desertion and dereliction of duty (Navy, Marine and Coast Guard members were held in Navy-run brigs). A cooperative agreement signed between the British and American governments early in 1942 turned Shepton Mallet over to American control and also stated that U.S. military personnel charged with criminal offenses under local law would be tried by general courts martial, rather than in British courts. The majority of those convicted of serious crimes were sent to Shepton Mallet.

US Soldiers on leave in UK during WWII

And the 18 U.S. service members executed at the prison had indeed been found guilty of serious offenses—nine were tried for murder, six for rape and the others for both—with 16 of the crimes committed in England and the other two in Northern Ireland. The victims included both U.S. military personnel and British civilians; among the latter were a 7-year-old girl, a pregnant wife, a 75-year-old-woman and renowned explorer Sir Eric Teichman, murdered by two GIs he caught trespassing on his estate. The Americans were all convicted either as a result of their own confessions, on the testimony of witnesses or surviving victims, or through forensic evidence—including blood and semen studies, hair and fiber samples, and footprint comparisons—that was compelling even at that early stage in the development of what we now call crime scene investigation.

Indeed, that the men executed at Shepton Mallet had actually committed the crimes with which they’d been charged is beyond reasonable doubt. What does come into question, however, is whether skin color was a determining factor in the decision to execute some men for crimes for which others received lesser punishments.

Holding the line in France

rmed forces are always a reflection of the nations that produce them, and the American military of World War II was spawned by an extremely race-conscious society. African-Americans served almost exclusively in segregated units—as, of course, did Japanese-American personnel—and soldiers, sailors and airmen of color were just as likely to encounter racism from their white counterparts in the service as they were from white civilians on the streets back home.

As Professor J. Robert Lilly of Northern Kentucky University has pointed out in his pioneering research into the administration of military justice in World War II, while the roughly 1 million African-American men who served in the nation’s armed services constituted less than 10 percent of the total force, they made up a much larger percentage of those given harsh sentences for serious offenses. Blacks were far more likely to be put to death for murder or rape than their white counterparts—in the European Theater 25 African-American men were executed for murder versus 4 whites; 22 blacks and 6 whites were put to death for rape; and 8 of the 12 killed for rape and murder were men of color. These percentages are roughly reflected in the numbers executed at Shepton Mallet….Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Black History

 

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Rhonda No More… and Real Bada** Women

Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm Trade Blows. Holly KO’d Rhonda in the Second Round.

And now for some truly “badazz” women…

1. Virginia Hall: Allied Spy

“She is the most dangerous of Allied spies. We must find and destroy her” was an actual thing the Gestapo said about Virginia Hall, an American operative in Vichy France, who helped gather vital intelligence for Britain in the early years of the war.

Despite the fact that her country — the United States — had yet to enter the war. Despite the fact that women weren’t generally considered spy material by the prevailing dudes in charge. Despite walking with a limp on a prosthetic leg, which made her as easily identifiable as, say, James Bond in every movie ever. (Seriously, does anyone in the world not know James Bond is a spy? How is it even possible he’s still undercover at this point? Who can I talk to about this?)

When America did finally enter the war, Hall was forced to escape by herself, on foot, over the Pyrenees mountains, all while still only having one leg. Upon arriving in Spain, she promptly pleaded to be sent back, which she ultimately was — this time to occupied France, where she helped train the French resistance, cut Nazi supply lines, and generally cause mass chaos in preparation for the Allied landing at Normandy. While being literallyhunted by Nazis.

Hall is pictured above receiving an award for her service, probably wondering how many Gestapo agents the old dude giving her the award has fled while wearing heels.

3. Sophie Scholl: German Dissident

…Disgusted by the rumors of mass slaughter on the Eastern Front and the deaths of an ever-growing number of her countrymen, Sophie — only 21 at the time — her brother Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst began distributing leaflets at the University of Munich denouncing the Nazis and calling for resistance among the German people. Their flyers eventually spread around Germany to the University of Hamburg and beyond, and into one of the few genuine flare-ups of internal political resistance against Hitler during the war.

Unfortunately, the Nazis, as you may have heard, were known for being a tad tough on dissent.

Sophie, Hans, and Probst were eventually captured by the Gestapo, tried, and executed for treason. Her last words were: “What does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”…

5. Faye Schulman: Partisan Fighter

After her whole family was massacred by the Nazis in the Lenin ghetto in Poland, Faye Schulman fled into the nearby woods, where she joined a group of resistance fighters. A skilled photographer, Schulman participated in a daring raid to rescue her photography equipment and proceeded to take a series of incredible photographs that captured the rarely seen daily lives of partisan fighters during the war.

As the only Jewish woman in the group, Schulman kept her identity secret throughout much of the war, all while documenting the bravery and sacrifice of her cohort. “I want people to know that there was resistance,” she said in an interview after the war. “Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.”

6 and 7. Frances Eliza Wills and Harriet Ida Pickens: Naval Officers

“Sailors?” you might be thinking. “What’s the big deal? Tons of American women served in the Naval Reserve (WAVES) during the Second World War.” Which is true.

Frances Eliza Wills and Harriet Ida Pickens, however, were the first to do it while black — and contend with the ridiculous amount of racism that came along with that.

In an era when the military was still segregated, Wills and Pickens overcame institutional barriers, a mountain of prejudice, and social expectations just to claim a job that thousands of their white peers were granted simply by showing up. They became the first black female officers in the U.S. Navy and were assigned to teach at the Hunter Naval Training Station in the Bronx.

72 black women in total served in WAVES during the war, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Wills and Pickens.

15. Lyudmila Pavlichenko: Soviet Sniper

I came here to chew bubble gum and shoot Nazis. And I’m all out of bubble gum…

As a sniper fighting the Nazis in the USSR, Lyudmila Pavlichenko recorded 309 kills — the most of any female sniper in history.

“We mowed down Hitlerites like ripe grain,” she said of her role in the battle of Sevastopol, presumably dropping a mic, kicking a door down, and speeding away in her Escalade. Pavlichenko became a national hero for her efforts and even toured the U.S. in 1942.

Eventually, the Soviets turned the tide on the Eastern Front and marched slowly but surely on to Germany. And the world was never the same.

To see the rest of the list – Go Here.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2015 in General, News

 

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Denied Valor of Black WWII Soldier(s)

One of the thigs they ignore in all of the movies about D-Day is black troops were there. Hitting Omaha beach in the first waves was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion A Company made up of roughly 500 men. At Utah Beach were  the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company B, 582nd Engineer Dump Truck Company, the 385th Quartermaster Truck Company, and the 490th Port Battalion with its 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th Port Companies made up of 1200 men. Supporting the British at Gold Beach were 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company C.

‘Negro’ D-Day Hero Overlooked for Medal of Honor

The faded, type-written piece of paper was buried in a box of 70-year-old documents at a presidential archive, but after it was recently unearthed, the fragile paper shined a spotlight on what a history detective called an injustice that lingers on from the Second World War – that of some black heroes who fought, but were forgotten.

“Here is a Negro from Philadelphia who has been recommended for a suitable award… This is a big enough award so that the President can give it personally, as he has in the case of some white boys,” stated the 1944 U.S. War Department memo to the Franklin D. Roosevelt White House.

The memo was written about Army Cpl. Waverly Woodson, Jr., and the “suitable award” important enough for Roosevelt to consider personally giving Woodson was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award given for valor. It would recognize his heroic actions as a combat medic on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, during the first hours of the Allies’ D-Day invasion of Europe.

But Woodson, who was black, never received the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, the military’s second-highest honor. Now his family, with the help of the author of a new book on his unit and a sympathetic congressman, are trying to restore and highlight a page erased from the history of the Greatest Generation by requesting the Medal of Honor be finally given to him.

“It’s never too late. It’s always possible to right a wrong. We need to let the future generations know what happened in World War II. The younger generation doesn’t even know what World War II was,” Woodson’s widow, Joann, told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday, two days before President Obama is scheduled to bestow a Medal of Honor on a veteran of the War in Afghanistan.

Joann’s late husband, who went by “Woody” and died a decade ago, had been a combat medic with the Army’s all-black segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion and saved dozens, if not hundreds, of troops on the battle-ripped landing area known as Omaha Beach, the stretch of coastline that saw the worst fighting on D-Day. Instead of the highest distinction or the DSC, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest individual military honor.

No records have survived to explain why Woodson was denied a White House ceremony presided over by FDR to receive the Medal of Honor. But one fact remains: not one of the hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who served during World War II received the Medal of Honor at the time.

It wasn’t until 1997 that seven black troops from World War II were given the Medal of Honor by President Clinton, but Woodson was not among them. Woodson, like 16-18 million other soldiers, lost all of his military records in the infamous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

That is, until the Philleo Nash memo was discovered.

“It was tucked in voluminous folders inside dusty boxes,” Linda Hervieux, author of the new book, “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and Overseas,” told ABC News in an interview.

It was Hervieux who discovered the 1944 memo at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. It was written by War Department aide Philleo Nash to a colleague, which is the only surviving record known to exist regarding Woodson, who was described in newspapers that served the African-American community in 1944 as the “No. 1 Invasion Hero.” Hervieux spent five years researching her book on Woodson and his outfit, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion.

Nash was an assistant director in the Office of War Information and wrote the typed page as a memo to Jonathan Daniels, a Roosevelt White House aide. Nash wrote that Woodson’s commanding officer had recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the office of U.S. Gen. John C. H. Lee in Britain had upgraded the recommendation to the highest decoration.

“Something happened between his commanders deciding he should get the Distinguished Service Cross and be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, but we don’t know what because those records are no longer there,” Hervieux said. “But Waverly Woodson’s heroics on Omaha Beach were clearly ignored and forgotten because the Army was racist to its core.”

Woodson’s little-known Barrage Balloon Battalion was responsible for hoisting huge balloons on the front lines of Normandy, France in an effort to deter German fighter planes from strafing or dive-bombing the infantry, Hervieux recounts in her book.

As a combat medic in the battalion, Woodson fought to save wounded and dying American troops, black and white alike, he was hit by shrapnel in the leg and buttocks but kept working.

“At that time,” Woodson once told an interviewer, “they didn’t care what color my skin was.”

In her book, Hervieux writes, “Throughout the day and night and into the next day, Woodson worked through his pain to save lives. He pulled out bullets, patched gaping wounds, and dispensed blood plasma. He amputated a right foot.”

Hervieux describes Woodson as the 320th’s “undisputed hero,” continuing to save lives during the invasion assault despite being seriously wounded by shrapnel. (When a mine blew up next to the landing craft he was on) After another medic slapped a dressing on his leg, Woodson later recalled wisecracking, “Close. Mighty close.”

Then, after resuscitating another four drowning men, 30 hours after he landed on Omaha Beach, Hervieux said Woodson “collapsed.”

His widow, Joann, now 86 herself, said she married a hero, even if discrimination in the era of Jim Crow left him forgotten by history for decades.

“That’s the kind of man he was,” Joann Woodson told ABC News on Tuesday from her home in Clarksburg, Maryland. “He was dedicated. Under fire, I don’t think he thought about it — his own safety.”

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Black History

 

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Oldest Living Veteran Credits Whiskey and Cigars…

Richard Overton of Austin, Texas is currently the oldest living WWII Veteran at 107 years of age.

H credits his longevity to whiskey and cigars!

Would that be Jim Beam, or George Dickel, sir?

 

Oldest Living Veteran Cites Whiskey, Cigars, ‘Staying Out Of Trouble’ As Key To Longevity

Richard Overton, who at 107-years-old is America’s oldest living veteran on record, was honored last week at a Veterans Day ceremony in Austin, Texas. In addition to a standing ovation, Overton received a box of cigars — a vice that he cites as a key ingredient in his recipe for longevity.

Overton takes no medicine, except for aspirin. Instead, he smokes cigars — up to 12 a day, he told Fox News this spring — and drinks whiskey with his morning coffee. The secret to living long, he told the Houston Chronicle, is “staying out of trouble.”

“I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses,” he told Fox. “The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself moving. I don’t watch television.”

Overton served in the Army during World War II in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. He now lives in Austin.

On Sunday, Overton was set to be honored in Washington, D.C. by President Barack Obama as part of the White House’s Veterans Day festivities. According to KEYE TV, Overton was scheduled to have breakfast with the president and Vice President Joe Biden, and then attend a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony.

“The president wants me to come with him,” Overton said. “I’m su

rprised he called me.”

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Black History

 

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Rosie the Riveter And Other Tales of Conveyance

Interesting picture from WWII Nashville as a woman factory worker rivets a part on a “Vengance” Dive Bomber built by Vultee Aircraft

Rare color photos from 1930s-40s

The interesting part here – to me at least is a black factory worker in the South during the early 40’s. Vultee initially didn’t become  a big name because most of it’s aircraft were built for our allies and foreign consumption.

Vultee would be reorganized in 1943 to become Convair, which would build the massive B-36, the F-102 Delta Dagger, F106 Delta Dart, the B-58 Hustler, and the Atlas Centaur Rocket booster. As a kid I built Revell models of most of these aircraft (what fun!).

Vultee Vengeance Dive Bomber

Thinking of things that go fast and bump in the night… Read the rest of this entry »

 

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