MAJ Charity Adams

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Major Charity Adams served as the Battalion Commander of the only African-American Women’s Army Corps (WAC) unit to be deployed overseas during World War II. Commanding the 6888th Central Postal Battalion, Adams and her 800 troops were stationed in Birmingham, England.

Although faced with the hardships and inequalities of segregation in the United States Army, Adams and her battalion not only accomplished their mission but earned the respect of their fellow soldiers.

We honor you, Charity Adams.



BG Benjamin O. Davis Sr.

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On Oct. 25, 1940, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. became the first African American to hold star rank in the U.S. Army and in the armed forces. He was promoted to brigadier general, temporary — a situation with which he was all too familiar, as his promotions to major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel had all originally been “temporary.” Such was the situation for black officers in Davis’s day — all two or three of them.

Fortunately for today’s 10,000-plus African-American Army officers, Davis was a patient man. Born in Washington in 1877, he first entered the military as a temporary first lieutenant on July 13, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Mustered out in 1899, he enlisted as a private just six months later. Within two years, he had been commissioned a second lieutenant of cavalry in the regular Army.

Davis’s service as an officer with the famed “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment in the Philippines and on the Mexican border was exemplary, yet his subsequent assignments as a college ROTC instructor and as a National Guard advisor were far from the front lines. All of his postings, including duty as the military attache to Liberia, were designed to avoid putting Davis in command of white troops or officers.

Because these were not high profile jobs, Davis rose slowly through the ranks, earning his colonel’s eagle only in 1930. In 1938, he received his first independent command, the 369th National Guard Infantry Regiment. When Davis was promoted to brigadier, some saw it as a political action from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, as advisor on race relations in the European theater during World War II, Davis, as his Distinguished Service Medal citation relates, showed “initiative, intelligence and sympathetic understanding” while conducting investigations, bringing about “a fair and equitable solution to … problems which have since become the basis of far-reaching War Department policy.”

Davis’s slow, steady, and determined rise in the Army paved the way for countless minority men and women — including his son Benjamin O. Davis Jr., a West Point graduate who in 1954 became only the second African-American general in the U.S. military and the first in the Air Force.

We honor you, Benjamin Davis Sr.


MAJ Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois

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Major Emiline Ann “Duce” Bourgeois, a native of Thibodaux referred to by the National World War II Museum as the oldest living female WWII veteran in Louisiana, whose service also included the Korean and Vietnam wars, died Oct. 30, 2015. She was 103.

In February 1945, near what would eventually be the end of World War II, Bourgeois, then 33, joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Her first assignment saw her serving in the Philippines, nursing wounded soldiers. A second assignment, also in the Philippines, saw her serving in combat hospitals.

In a recent interview with the Houma-Thibodaux magazine & website Point of Vue, Bourgeois recalled how wounded GIs were happy to have an American nurse to talk to. She had many boyfriends, but chose to never marry.

“They were very young, and they didn’t know how old I was because I seemed to always look younger than I am,” she told WWL-TV’s Bill Capo in a 2011 interview where she was celebrated at a Veterans Day ceremony in Thibodaux.

Bourgeois, or “Duce” – the nickname was given to her by her grandfather, referencing the French word for “sweet” – also served in post-World War II occupied Germany. Her last assignment was as head nurse of obstetrics at the West Point Academy Hospital in New York.

Her wartime service was honored with many awards including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Germany Occupational Medal, and a West Point Academy patch.

Born on Dec. 24, 1911 in the St. Charles community, south of Thibodaux, young “Duce” attended and graduated from St. Charles High School in 1929. She then headed to New Orleans, where she first found odd jobs, including working at S.H. Kress & Co. dime store on Canal Street. She then enrolled in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing, from which she graduated in 1941. Her specialty was obstetrics.

As she progressed in her military career after WWII, Bourgeois was awarded the rank of 1st Lieutenant and then Captain. During the Vietnam War, she was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, where she served as the charge nurse of the obstetrical ward.

She retired in 1962 to care for her parents, who lived well into their 90s. She also returned to nursing, accepting a general nursing position at St. Joseph Hospital, where she would continue to work for 20 years.

We honor you, Emiline Bourgeois.

(#Repost @The Star Press)

CPT Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Wilson Reagan enrolled in a series of home-study Army Extension Courses on 18 March 1935. After completing 14 of the courses, he enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve on 29 April 1937, as a Private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on 25 May 1937.  On June 18 of that year Reagan, who had just moved to Los Angeles to begin his film career, accepted his Officer’s Commission and was assigned to the 323rdCavalry.

Lieutenant Reagan was ordered to active duty on 19 April 1942. Due to eyesight difficulties, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. His first assignment was at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation at Fort Mason, California, as liaison officer of the Port and Transportation Office. Upon the request of the Army Air Forces (AAF), he applied for a transfer from the Cavalry to the AAF on 15 May 1942; the transfer was approved on 9 June 1942. He was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California. Reagan was promoted to First Lieutenant on 14 January 1943 and was sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit of This Is The Army at Burbank, California. Following this duty, he returned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit, and on 22 July 1943 was promoted to Captain.

In January 1944, Captain Reagan was ordered to temporary duty in New York City to participate in the opening of the sixth War Loan Drive. He was assigned to the 18th AAF Base Unit, Culver City, California on 14 November 1944, where he remained until the end of the war. He was recommended for promotion to Major on 2 February 1945, but this recommendation was disapproved on July 17 of that year. On 8 September 1945, he was ordered to report to Fort MacArthur, California, where he was separated from active duty on 9 December 1945.

While on active duty with the 1st Motion Picture Unit and the 18th Army Air Forces Base Unit, Captain Reagan served as Personnel Officer, Post Adjutant, and Executive Officer. By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the Army Air Forces.

Reagan’s Reserve Commission automatically terminated on 1 April 1953. However, he became Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. Armed Forces when he became President on 20 January 1981.

We honor you, Ronald Reagan.

(#Repost @

Sgt Bob Williams

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In the summer of 2012—almost 70 years to the day he joined the Marines at age 17—Bob Williams presented his story to Todd DePastino’s World War II History class at the Canonsburg campus of Waynesburg University.  Bob landed at Parris Island at a hard time for the Marines.  The Corps was so short of manpower that the teenage Bob soon became a drill instructor, barking orders at recruits a dozen years older than he.

By 1944, Bob had transferred to the new 24th Marine Regiment, which, along with the 23rd and the 25th, became part of the 4th Marine Division.  When the 4th Marines stepped aboard ship in San Diego, they would not touch dry land again unless they were fighting on it.  There would be four island invasions over the next thirteen months: Roi Namor, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.

Bob made it only as fas as Saipan.  Like so many combat veterans, he considers himself very lucky.  So many close calls.  So many killed by fire that should have struck him.  Finally, on July 4, 1944, he did get hit.

It was still dark when Sgt. Williams saw the grenade land at his feet.  He scrambled for a bomb crater.  The grenade exploded, and Bob, expecting another grenade, jumped up and started running.  He noticed a loose rope flopping around him.  It was his arm, disabled by the blast.  Bob would spend the next year in military hospitals.  His arm would heal well enough for Bob to earn a living as a wallpaper hanger back in Pennsylvania.

Recently, Bob’s daughter Pam Rose sent a summary of his VBC interview to the Camp Pendleton Historical Society, which published his account in its 2014 first quarter edition.

We honor you, Bob Williams.

(#Repost @

MSgt Catherine G. Murray

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The first female Marine to retire from the U.S. Marine Corps was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on [January 23, 2018].

Catherine G. Murray, who passed away last month at the age of 100, enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1943 after hearing President Franklin D. Roosevelt announce the Pearl Harbor attack over the radio. She transferred to active duty five years later.

Her first assignment was as a motor transport Marine during World War II. After the war, she was one of the first female Marines transferred to Hawaii.

During her service, Murray was a fierce advocate for women, once standing up to two colonels after she felt they were not giving female Marines enough credit, according to her YouTube channel.

In 1962, Murray was the first woman to retire from the Corps, achieving the rank of Master Sergeant.

Even after her retirement, Murray continued to serve her country, becoming the first enlisted woman to join the Fleet Marine Reserves where she served until 1972.

Murray passed away December 20, 2017.


We honor you, Catherine Murray.

(#Repost @ABC News)

Holsey Gillis

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Holsey Gillis was born in Georgia and was one of six brothers and two sisters in the family. His father had a farm and Holsey learned to work at an early age. Between climbing pecan trees to knock down the nuts to milking cows, Holsey kept busy. After graduating from high school, he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps. At that time, there was a quota of accepting seven African Americans a day at Ft. Benning, GA. Holsey went with two other friends and was the final cut for that day. He did his Basic Training at Montfort Point, NC, which was very tough. For example, if one person made a misstep in marching, the group would stop in formation until the person ran to the river, crossed it and returned. All of this in the hot North Carolina sun. However, one accomplishment at the base was having these Marines set records for target shooting with their 150 mm guns.

After Basic Training, Holsey was sent overseas aboard a Landing Ship Tank (LST) through the Panama Canal with the 10th Depot Company. He still remembers the engineering feat of going through the locks to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. After almost two month of riding the rough waves, Holsey made it to Guadalcanal, which was secured by this time and then he was sent to New Caledonia. Holsey was in Guam during the Invasion of Saipan. Next, he was sent to the Invasion at Okinawa and, in a pouring rain he descended from the ship on ropes into very rough water to board a small boat to get to the beach. He stayed here until the end of the war and was sent back to Montfort Point. Hoping to be home for Christmas, Holsey missed out by a few days and was finally discharged at the age of 21.

After attending Morehouse College for a few semesters, Holsey decided to get back to what he enjoyed, working with his hands. He moved to Philadelphia, PA and worked in a tailor shop, a service station and ended up as a Firestone Tire Manager in Hyattsville, MD. In June 2012, Holsey was one of about 400 African American Marines throughout the country that received the Congressional Gold Medal from Congress in Washington, DC for their service during World War II.

We honor you, Holsey Gillis.

(#Repost @AFRH)