African-American Military Heroes and Heroines
Colonel Charles YoungA decorated veteran and important figure in American history. Among his many accomplishments, promotions, and honors, he was the 3rd Black graduate of West Point, a member of the Buffalo soldiers, recipient of the NAACP’s second Springarn Medal, and the first black Major in the U.S. Army.
Lieutenant General Frank E. PetersenLieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr. was the first black General and first black pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served thirty-eight years in the Navy, including thirty-six as a Marine.
Montford Point MarnesMontford Point Marines: They trained at a facility called Montford Point that operated at Camp Lejeune, N.C., from 1942 to 1949, when the military was segregated. While the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen and buffalo soldiers are well-documented, the Marines have received little recognition. Until now, that is. Congress recently voted to honor about 20,000 with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor.
PFC Milton Olive IIIPFC Milton Olive III: He was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for saving the lives of four other U.S. Army soldiers during a battle early in the Vietnam War. Milton used his body to cover a grenade to save his fellow soldiers. "It was the most incredible display of selfless bravery I ever witnessed," the platoon commander later told a journalist.
Major Martin Robison DelanyMaj. Martin Robison Delany: He was the first African-American field officer in the U.S. Army. He led the 52nd U.S. Colored Troops Regiment and became the first line officer in U.S. Army history. He was accepted at Harvard Medical School but was kicked out after three weeks when white students petitioned for his removal.
Lillian E. FishburneLillian E. Fishburne: Appointed by President Bill Clinton, she became the first African-American woman to hold the rank of rear admiral. The appointment also made the now-retired Fishburne the highest-ranking African-American woman in the U.S. Navy
Lemuel HaynesLemuel Haynes: He served as a minuteman during the American Revolutionary War, fighting at the April 1775 Battle of Lexington. He was an indentured servant who enlisted in the war after earning his freedom. He later became an ordained Protestant minister.
Benjamin O. Davis Jr.Benjamin O. Davis Jr.: During World War II, he commanded the 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group (both part of the Tuskegee Airmen) and became the first black general of the U.S. Air Force. The bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen, who fought enemies abroad and racism at home, has been captured in the George Lucas feature film Red Tails.
Colonel Adele E. HodgesCol. Adele E. Hodges: She was the first woman to command Camp Lejeune, N.C. Hodges oversaw more than 47,000 Marines and sailors. She headed up new training, improved infrastructure and enhanced security. After two years, she joined the Inspector General's Office at Marine Corps headquarters in Arlington, Va.