The 70th Anniversary of the end of the war in Europe, V-E Day, is fast approaching. Join us at the WWII Memorial in Washington DC to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served…Click here to see the official page for the day’s events.
Harold G. Smith was drafted into the U.S. Army, commissioned as a Lieutenant, and assigned to the Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry. At that time, the army had a protocol; they assigned white officers, mostly from the south, to command the black (colored) troops in segregated units. Smith is white, but he’s not from the south. He was born and raised in upstate New York. That meant he brought a different perspective. In this interview, Smith shares his recollections of that time. After the war, Smith returned to the states. He was recalled to duty for the Korean War and eventually retired from the army with the rank of Major.
After watching the interview, make sure to check out the collection of photos of some of the items that Smith has meticulously maintained in his foot locker. He’s kept almost everything from his time with the 92nd and his memorabilia tells a story of its own!
General Colin Powell (Ret.) former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State has been a strong supporter of the 92nd, and the Buffalo Soldiers in general. Here he talks about some of the challenges faced by African Americans serving in a segregated military; as well as the impact that their service had on the military – and society at large.
In recognition of Memorial Day, as well as in appreciation for ALL who served and sacrificed, I’ve uploaded my documentary Deeds Not Words: The Buffalo Soldiers in World War II. The documentary follows the Buffalo Soldiers of the Army’s 92nd Infantry Division from their time in basic training, through their tour of combat in the Italian Theater from 1944-1945, and then back home after the war.
Making this documentary was truly an honor. There’s a saying, “war is hell”. These men experienced hell on many levels. It was both awe-inspiring, and awful, to hear how they had to battle the Germans on one side, and then their own officers. And then, after fighting for liberty abroad, to come home and see that those same liberties they fought for for others, did not apply to them…
One other element of this project also breaks my heart. I started work on the documentary in 2004. Of all the members of the unit you see, as of Memorial Day weekend 2014, only one is left – Joseph Hairston.
They say you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Many of our WWII vets are already gone, and it’s estimated that another thousand pass away every day. So, whether it’s Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, or any day that ends in “Y”, please take a moment to pay tribute and offer your appreciation to those who served in the past, and those who are serving today.
It’s been a while since we’ve added any new content to the page, so we’re going to fix that. First and foremost, we’ll be uploading the documentary Deeds Not Words: The Buffalo Soldiers in World War II to the website. The documentary originally aired on The Pentagon Channel in February 2011.
After that, we’ll post other periodic updates during the summer. We’ll have web extras – outtakes from our interviews with the members of the 92nd’s Veteran’s Association. We’ll also post information about this year’s reunion – scheduled for October 17th-19th.
So, as they say in TV-land…stay tuned!