/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
New York National Guard 369th Infantry: Black Citizen-Soldiers, American Heroes

Not only did the 369th Infantry embody the ideal of the Citizen-Soldier, by mobilizing to defend their nation and serving with great distinction, but it did it while experiencing harsh “Jim Crow” racism

The 369th Infantry, New York National Guard was made up completely of black Soldiers As part of US policy, black Soldiers had always been kept apart from their white counterparts, other than their white commanding officers They were almost always poorly equipped compared to the white regiments

New York Governor Charles Whitman was very specific in the man he chose to command the regiment Col William Hayward, a White public service commissioner who previously served in the Nebraska National Guard, was the unit’s commander He was already known and liked by New York’s black-American community, and he wanted the regiment to become a source of community pride

The 369th encountered racial prejudice from the moment of its inception The entire construction of the regiment, under the policies of the United States, pitted the odds against them

Some of the most intense racism the men experienced was during their mobilization train-up in Camp Wadsworth, SC White South Carolinians refused to treat the black Soldiers with the same dignity as whites, even though the Soldiers had volunteered to die for their country Violence broke out, especially when black-American Soldiers from the north balked at southern “Jim Crow” segregation laws

When the regiment arrived in France, race was not something the French troops paid much attention to, as they were badly in need of troops after years of brutal trench warfare The French persuaded Gen John Pershing to reassign the 369th and three other colored regiments to the French Fourth Army

In 191 days of under enemy fire, the 369th never lost a prisoner or gave up a foot of captured ground The regiment as a whole was awarded the French military honor, the Croix de Guerre, and 171 of the officers and troops received individual citations for bravery, more than any other American unit in the war

The mention of the unit’s French awards is significant because of the awards that were purposefully overlooked by US commanders Commanders in the US were more than reluctant to reward black Soldiers for excellent performance, which is an indication of the extent that racism penetrated American life

The respect given to the Soldiers by the French Army was surpassed by the amount of respect the enemy German Soldiers gave them The Germans began referring to the men of the 369th as Blutlustige Schwartzmanner – “Bloodthirsty Black Men” The French gave the regiment the nickname it would take into history – “The Hellfighters”

Pvt Needham Roberts, Pvt Henry Johnson, and Lt James Reese Europe were Soldiers who served with distinction made significant contributions to the war effort and to America

Pvt Roberts and Pvt Johnson fought off a German patrol after being wounded, attacking with knives and rifle butts when the ammunition ran out Three American journalists visiting the 369th to report on the band spread word of the battle back to the US Roberts and Johnson became national heroes, especially in the black-American communities

Europe was the first black-American officer to lead troops into battle during the war, but was also the 369th Band director who was responsible for introducing jazz music to the French
Despite having to simultaneously persevere against the Axis enemy abroad and the racism enemy at home, the 369th Infantry “Hellfighters” served proudly and contributed greatly to the Allied Forces victory in WWI The Hellfighters not only embodied the essence of the Citizen-Soldier, but they also did it, much like the 54th Massachusettes volunteers of the Civil War and the “Buffalo Soldiers” of the American frontier, in a time when their nation would not even recognize them as equal

By Sgt Joe Roos, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
Feb 11, 2008


Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

Article archive