Reception Honoring The Association of the '2,221' Negro Volunteers of World War II
Patterson Community Center
November 13, 2004
The 13th Regiment United States Colored Troops (Civil War Reenactors)
Ms. Becky Jones, Clanton, Alabama
Infantry Volunteers, WWII
The Association of the "2,221" Negro Volunteers
530 Upsall Drive
Antioch, TN 37013
Call to order ----- Dr. George Smith, 13th USCT
Posting of Colors ----- 13th USCT Pledge of Allegiance ----- Ms. Kennedy J. Townsend -- 1st Grader, Lakeview Design Learning Center, Nashville, Tennessee Introduction of Association ----- Ms. Mae Bell
Association of the "2,221" Negro Volunteers WWII -- Reunion Coordinator
Prayer ----- Mr. Curtis Gaines -- 13th USCT
Welcome ----- City of Murfreesboro, Tennessee The Occasion ----- Mr. Bennie McRae -- Military History Researcher -- Trotwood, Ohio Introduction of Speaker ----- Mr. Steve Gill -- Atlanta, Georgia Guest Speaker ----- Honorable Mayor James Perkins -- Selma, Alabama
Song ----- God Bless America -- Audience
Presentation ----- Mr. Norm Hill -- 13th USCT
Expression of Appreciation ----- Dr. George W. Smith
The Association is an organization of World War II Black servicemen who served in the European Theater to defeat the Hitler Regime in 1945.
Although the American Military was segregated at the time there were no African American combat infantrymen serving in that area. General
Dwight D. Eisenhower the Supreme Allied Commander, on Dec. 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, that Black Soldiers who had earned rank as Non-Commissioned Officers would have to forfeit their stripes, so as not to out-rank white soldiers.
Within two months more than 5,000 Negro 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 perform well 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 Volunteer 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. This came as great disappointment to many because the Army had promised black soldiers they would return home with their infantry units. African Americans were improperly denied the military awards and decorations they had rightfully earned while serving in combat, often the records of former non-commissioned officers were never updated to reflect the rank they had achieved before they volunteered.
Although the Army did not act immediately to the call for integration, President Harry S. Truman issued an Executive Order 9981 in July 1948 decreeing the integration of the Armed Forces.
There were two historic events that occurred during the war years said 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 WWII and the beginning of peace, but also to the ending of segregation and the possibility integration offered.
For additional information please contact:
Mae Bell, Reunion Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org - 615-731-5261 or 615-300-2884