Black Americans and the Nation's Defenese
Reference: VFW Magazine - February 1992. Published by Veterans of Foreign Wars, 407 West 34th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
For 217 years, Black Americans have made a vital contribution to defending America at home and abroad. That service has taken them around the globe and involved them in virtually every American war.
The following brief statistical sketches provide a glimpse at the numbers of Black Americans who participated and died in the nation's defense.
(1775-1783): Approximately 5,000 blacks fought in the War of Independence. By mid-1778, each brigade in Gen. George Washington's army averaged 43 black soldiers.
War of 1812
(1812-15): Though blacks were barred from service for the first two years, at the wars latter stages they comprised 10% of naval crews.
(1846-48): No blacks served In this war. It was fought by regulars and volunteers primarily from the rural South and Mid- west.
(1861-65): Blacks made up 12% (178,895 men) of the Union Army and 25% (30,000) of the Union Navy. Thousands of civilians served In service units as laborers, teamsters, scouts, cooks, etc.
(1866-91): The 5,000 blacks who served in the all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments constituted about 10% of the total troops who guarded the Western frontier for a quarter century.
(1898): The four black regular regiments fought on Cuba, making up about 12% of the forces on the Island. Another 2,000- 7.6% of all sailors - served In the Navy.
(1899-1902): In addition to the four black regular regiments, two volunteer regiments composed of blacks helped wage this colonial campaign.
Mexican Punitive Expedition
(1916): The all-black 10th Cavalry comprised 12% of the forces sent In pursuit of Poncho Villa. The regiment suffered over half (10 men killed) of the casualties sustained In this desert' expedition.
World War I
(1917-18): Over 200,000 black soldiers made It to France, equaling 9.2% of the American Expeditionary Force. Most in were support units. But the all-black 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions lost 773 killed In action (1.4% of the U.S. total) and 4,408 wounded in action.
World War II
(1941-45): Some 500,000 blacks were stationed overseas amounting to 4% of the 11 million Americans who served on foreign shores. About 10% of blacks were in combat units.
The all-black 92nd Infantry Division was in Italy, and had 616 killed in action and 2,187 wounded. The 93rd Division was stationed in the South Pacific, losing 17 KIA and 121 WIA. There was also the black 366th Infantry (Separates).
During the Battle of the Bulge, 2,500 blacks were formed into all-black Infantry platoons and attached to larger units. The famed 761st Tank Battalion spent 183 continuous days in combat In the European Theater, earning a Presidential Unit Citation. The 333rd Field Artillery bravely supported ground operations in France.
Three all-black air units: 332nd Fighter Group,
447th Bombardment Group and the 99th Fighter Squadron. Sixty-six black pilots were killed in action. A total of 140,000 blacks served in the Army Air Forces.
Nearly 150,000 blacks served in the Navy. Messman Dorie Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for gallantly aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Of the 12,000 black Marines, 9 were kill in action.
Korean War I
(1950-53): About 195,000 blacks were in Korea, comprising 13% of U.S. troops there. Some 3,223, or 9% of the total, were killed in action. Korea saw the end of segregated units in all armed forces.
(1961-73): Black Americans who served in Vietnam numben 275,000 (10.6% of all forces). Hostile deaths were 5,711 (12.1% of the total) and non-hostile deaths came to 1,530.
(1958-1989): Blacks have served in all the armed forces' deployments, under hostile conditions, for the past three decades. This includes the Dominican Republic (1965-66), the Korea DMZ, Lebanon (1982-84), Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989).
Persian Gulf War
(1991): Approximately 104,000 (24.5% of the total troops deployed) who served in Saudi Arabia were black. Some 27 died during Operation Desert Storm, equaling 15% of the total U.S. deaths.