Although no WWII Medals of Honor were awarded at the time to any African Americans, researchers later determined that at least seven (and possibly more) black servicemen deserved this award.
Here are some examples of the Black soldier in action and the redress they recieved posthumusly:
One of these men was Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers, who was severely wounded in action on 15 November 1944 but refused medical evacuation so that he might stay with his company. When their advance was stopped by enemy fire at Bougaltroff, France, on this date, Riversâ€™ tank helped cover the companyâ€™s withdrawal. Rivers was killed and the other crewmen were injured when their tank was hit by enemy fire. Rivers was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in January 1997.
14 December 1944 Lieutenant (later Captain) Charles L. Thomas was another of the seven African Americans posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor in January 1997. Thomas won this prestigious award for his heroism in action on this date near Climbach, France. Wounded in the initial enemy fire while storming the village, Thomas helped his comrades to safety at which time he was wounded again. Despite intensely painful multiple wounds, he directed the emplacement of two antitank guns and thoroughly briefed the platoon commander before allowing himself to be evacuated.
26 December 1944 First Lieutenant John R. Fox, a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, sacrificed his life to direct defensive artillery fire to slow the German advance on Sommocolonia, Italy. Although most of their fellow infantrymen were forced to withdraw because they were outnumbered by the enemy, Fox and others in his observer party voluntarily remained in town to direct Allied artillery fire. Fox willingly directed fire onto his own position because it was the only way to defeat the attacking Germans. He, too, was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor in January 1997 for his valorous actions on this date.
23 March 1945 Another of the seven African-American soldiers posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in January 1997 was Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter, Jr. After the tank on which he was riding came under enemy fire near Speyer, Germany, Carter voluntarily led a 3-man group across an open field against the enemy. Two of the men were killed and one was seriously wounded in the attempt, but Carter continued alone until he, too, was wounded and forced to take cover. Although eight German soldiers were sent to capture him, Carter managed to kill six of them and take the other two hostage. As he led his prisoners back to his unit, he learned valuable information about enemy troops in the area.
5-6 April 1945 The only one of the seven WWII African-American Medal of Honor winners still alive to receive his award in January 1997 was Second (later First) Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker. In fighting near Viareggio, Italy, Baker showed extraordinary heroism by singlehandedly destroying two enemy positions as well as two more with his menâ€™s aid. He then covered the evacuation of his companyâ€™s wounded by drawing enemy fire to an exposed position. The following night he voluntarily led a battalion assault against the enemy through minefields and heavy fire.
7 April 1945 Private First Class Willy F. James, Jr., was killed while attempting to aid his fatally wounded platoon leader. As lead scout on a maneuver to secure and expand a vital bridgehead, James was pinned down for over an hour. During that time he observed enemy positions in detail, then used that information to help his platoon plan a new maneuver. James died while leading a squad during the assault. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in January 1997.
22 August 1945 Colonel Julian G. Herne, Jr., commander of the black 24th Infantry Regiment, accepted the surrender of Aka Island, the first formal capitulation of a Japanese army garrison.
The void of men and women of color in our history books is nothing less than shameful. It is my hope that all will take a little time to learn of the contributions of people of color in our history, often with no hope of reaping any benefits.
From the Black fighters that fought with George Washington in Yorktown, Va. forcing the surrender of Cornwalis and thereby helping in the very birth of this nation, to the Black troops that helped stopped Robert E. Lee in Appomatox, Va., forcing his surrender and thereby reuniting this country.
Everything from inventions to just awesome examples of the will of the human spirit to survive such degredation as slavery and racism to this day, is exemplified by Black Americans.
Thanks Witt for your participation. Thank you Petro for your contribution, but I'm still curious to have my question answered.
And thank you RG for the encouragement to go forward with these posts.
This brings these proceedings to a close.