Buffalo Soldiers honored during Black History Month festivities at MCLB-Albany

By JENNIFER PARKS | The Albany Herald (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 9, 2017

MCLB-ALBANY — Speakers celebrating Black History Month at Marine Corps Logistics Command Albany on Wednesday made a point of noting that failure to recognize the past is a guarantee it will be repeated.

The Albany area chapter of Blacks in Government, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM) celebrated Black History Month along with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of Albany at the installation’s amphitheater.

“I, like you, stand on the shoulders of giants,” Col. James Carroll III, the commanding officer of MCLB-Albany, said during the celebration. “If we don’t (remember the past), we are doomed to repeat it.”

The Buffalo Soldiers club is named for regiments of African-Americans formed after the American Civil War who battled to defend the nation’s western frontier. Cathay Williams, Moses Williams, Henry Flipper and Charles Young were among the individuals mentioned who helped pave the way for diversity in every branch of the military.

Participants in the program at the Albany base Wednesday acknowledged that among those who benefited from these pioneers’ efforts are Carroll and Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, commanding general for LOGCOM.

“It is a special day in not that they are black, but the acceptance of our country,” said Anthony Hunt, treasurer of the Albany Buffalo Soldiers club. “We need to be mindful of what we do to embrace success for our grandchildren even after we leave.”

Flipper was a native of Thomasville. He served in the Army from 1877-1882, achieving the rank of second lieutenant.

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Cornell Wilson Jr., secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, spoke on the significance of the Ninth and 10th Calvary regiments, and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry regiments that made up the Buffalo Solders when they were created by Congress in 1866.

Wilson said Colin Powell, during his time as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted how the Buffalo Soldiers’ point of origination at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, gave little evidence they were there. The retired Marine added that the soldiers performed honorably, even without inadequate supplies.

He also made note of the Montford Point Marines, a group established after a 1942 directive from President Roosevelt giving African-Americans an opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps.

Instead of being sent for training with the rest of the Marines, African-American Marines were segregated and went to basic training at Montford Point at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in 1949.

“More than 20,000 came through the Montford Point Marines,” Wilson said.

He closed his remarks by noting: “We must never forget the legacy of men who served well and the women (who are serving).”

James “Jack” Hadley, retired Air Force chief master sergeant, is founder and president of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum in Thomasville. He spoke on Wednesday of the resources at the museum and advocated for improvements in black education.

He also credited his son for the idea to establish the museum after he came home one day upset that black history was not playing a more vital role in society.

“I would not be here if it was not for him,” Hadley said. “I always tell the grown-ups to listen to the kids. You never know where it is going to lead.”

Ira Thompson, president of the Albany BIG chapter and the organization’s regional council president, made a reference to the severe storms in January to make the point that the fight for equality continues.

“The storm in Southwest Georgia is starting, and we have to remain vigilant,” he said.

The Anointed Albany State University Gospel Choir performed selections at the ceremony along with Freedom Singer Rutha Harris.

©2017 The Albany Herald, Ga.
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