Infantry Volunteers, WWII
Clanton, Alabama Chapter
The Association of the "2,221" Negro Volunteers
1103 4th Avenue North
Clanton, Alabama 35045
October 13, 2003
Contact: Mae Bell at 205-280-6402
Clanton, Alabama will host the Annual Reunion of the Association of the "2,221" Negro Volunteers, November 7-13, 2003.
The Association is an organization of World War II Black Servicemen who served in the European Theater to defeat the Hitler Regime in 1945.
More than 58 years have passed since the volunteers project was authorized by General Dwight D. Eisenhower's Command to allow Blacks to enter into combat as infantrymen. In December of 1944, the American forces in the European Theater found themselves critically short of infantry troops following heavy American losses during the German counter offensive in the Ardennes.
Although the American Military was segregated, at the time there were no African Americans combat infantrymen serving in that area. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander on December 26, 1944, for the first time in history called for Volunteers from among the African American troops to fill this critical need. The call came with the stipulation, however, that Black Soldiers who had earned rank as Non-Commissioned Officers would have to forfeit their stripes, so as not out rank white soldiers. Even so, within two months more than 5,000 African American Soldiers had volunteered to fight at the front.
The Army eventually accepted and trained 2,221 of these soldiers as infantrymen, who would go on to serve with honor and distinction on the battlefields of the European Theater. Most black soldiers were assigned to service support units until December 1944. Some officials had questioned whether black soldiers would be able to perform under the pressure of combat.
The performance of black riflemen was outstanding and surprisingly, the morale of the troops were high. The off-duty relations of enlisted men into the White and Negro platoons were marked by mutual respect and tolerance based on performances in combat. White and Negro platoons were given the same types of missions. The 2,221 Volunteers project provided the military substantial proof that blacks were able soldiers and that tolerance could produce a more efficient Army.
Despite a valiant effort during the war, as orders came for redeployment, blacks were dropped out of the infantry and placed back within the service support units. African Americans were improperly denied the military awards and decorations they had rightfully earned while serving in combat, and often the records of former non-commissioned officers were never updated to reflect the rank they had achieved before they volunteered. This came as a great disappointment to many because the Army had promised black soldiers they would return home with their infantry units. Although the Army did not act immediately to the call for integration, President Harry S. Truman issued an Executive Order in 1948 decreeing the integration of the Armed Forces.
"There were two historic events that occurred during the war years" said J. Cameron Wade, founder of the Association of the "2,221" Negro Volunteers. "We caused the end of one era and the beginning of another," he was not only referring to the ending of the World War II and the beginning of peace, but also to the ending of segregation and the possibility integration offered.
For additional information please contact:
Phone: 205-280 6402
Mrs. A.D. Gill
Saturday, November 8, 2003
9:30 a.m. -- Meet and Greet Breakfast - Shoney's Guest House Inn Conference Room (7.50 per person)
11:30 noon -- Pickup at Hotel: Selma, Alabama - Freedom Walk Tour and Montgomery, Alabama - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tour (Motorcade)
7:00 p.m. -- Gathering of Friends, Clanton, Alabama
Sunday, November 9, 2003
10:30 a.m. -- Pickup at Hotel: 11:00 a.m. Worship Service - Fountain Chapel Methodist Church - 110 12th St., Clanton
Dinner: West End Church of Christ, 306 11th St. So., Clanton, Alabama
5:00 p.m. -- Bible Study - West End Church of Christ
Monday, November 10, 2003
10:00 a.m. -- Pickup at Hotel - Birmingham, Alabama Tour (Motorcade)
Lunch: Birmingham, Alabama
Visit: Milton Hale - Bessemer, Alabama
Dinner: Shoney's Inn
7:00 p.m. - "2,221" (Closed) Business meeting in Conference Room (Wives included)
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
10:30 a.m. - Pickup at Hotel
11:00 a.m. - Veterans Ceremony - American Legion Post 6, Enterprise Road, Clanton, Alabama
12:15 p.m. - Lunch - Clara's Restaurant, Enterprise Road, Clanton, Alabama (6.50 per person)
2:00 p.m. -- Veterans Ceremony - Chilton County High School, Clanton, Alabama
After ceremony meet at Mr. Allie Cottrell's home
** Total for weekend per person (14.00) (Pay at meeting)
** All funds collected will go toward next year's reunion
** Restaurant hours: 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.