USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
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Each February, the U.S. Army joins our nation in observation and reflection of the tremendous contributions of Black Americans to our country and our history. Black Soldiers have defended our nation since the Revolutionary War and built a legacy of courage and professionalism by serving the U.S. Army with great honor and distinction, inspiring generations to come.
The 2022 theme of Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness.” It focuses on the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners and ways to increase wellness. As well as this, our yearly commemoration provides the opportunity to reflect on the contributions of Black people who have served in the Army and reinforce the strength that comes when every member of the force has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Black Americans have served and sacrificed in every conflict in our nation’s history, with more than 245 years of honorable service.
Today’s Army honors the tradition of the sacrifices of Black Soldiers:
- The Louisiana Free Men of Color who fought the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812
- The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment of the Union Army
- The Buffalo Soldiers
- The Harlem Hell Fighters of New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment in WWI
- The Tuskegee Airmen
- The “Triple Nickels,” the all-black airborne unit in WWII
- The brave drivers of the “Red Ball Express,” who brought supplies to Allied forces after D-Day
- and the “Black Panthers” of the 761st Tank Battalion in WWII.
Approximately one million Black Americans served in the military during World War II; the mistreatment and racism many experienced upon returning home from war influenced President Truman to desegregate the military in 1948. For 245 years, Black Soldiers and Army Civilians have answered the call to help fight and win our nation’s wars.
“My great-grandfather and others contributed significantly to this country, without knowing what their contributions would mean to the future of the military — now a place where people of different races work side by side with the same mission, to protect their nation.”
– MG Milford H. Beagle, Jr., Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum
Today, more than 190,000 Black people serve in the Total Force (~99,000 Regular Army; ~52,000 National Guard; ~40,000 Army Reserve,) with about 19% of the Total Army identifying as African American/Black (20.4% Regular Army; 14.8% National Guard; 21.2% Army Reserve) and approximately 14.89% of the Department of the Army Civilian workforce identify as African American / Black.
Our Army is strong because of diversity. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III became the first Black Secretary of Defense in 2021, Gen. Colin L. Powell became the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989 and the first Black Secretary of State in 2001. In 2021, SFC Alwyn Cashe was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq when he sacrificed himself to retrieve six Soldiers and an interpreter from a burning vehicle. Capt. Della R. Jackson became the first African American nurse to be commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1941. Lt. Gen. Nadja West was the first African American appointed as the U.S. Army Surgeon General and the highest-ranking female graduate of the U.S. Military Academy.
As part of the garrison Black History Month observance, SFC Pierre Boynton is joined by CH (LTC) John Ijeoma, in our video highlighting the theme of 2022 “Black Health and Wellness.”