The story of America's African American military history can be traced back to the dawn of the republic. Five years before the Revolution, Boston citizens confronted a squad of English soldiers. A black man took control of the protest and challenged the Redcoats. The British raised their weapons and fired. In that one volley, Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave, became the first man to give his life for a cause that would become the American Revolution.
Black military history shows that black soldiers have risked their lives in defense of this nation in the dual effort to preserve freedom for their country while attempting to acquire it for themselves. African-American service men and women have been military heroes since the earliest days of the United States.
Black Heroes in World War II
"These guys were better than heroes because they weren't supposed to be able to fight. And they were treated worse than lepers. It took a rare sort of character to go out there and do what they did. I used to ask myself, why the hell should these guys fight? Why? " (Captain David Williams)
Black Heroes in the Korean War
On June 24th, 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and quickly captured the city of Seoul. One month later, the Buffalo Soldiers, accompanied by three other black combat units, were among the first to arrive on Korean soil. As in conflicts past, these African-American soldiers would be the war's first heroes.
A Black Hero in Vietnam
As the battle raged, Captain Pitts lobbed a hand grenade at his attackers. To his horror, it bounced back. The soldier threw his body over the bomb, which failed to explode. After a moments pause, Captain Pitts returned to the fray, fighting valiantly, until he was mortally wounded by a rocket propelled grenade. It was supposed to have been his last day in Vietnam. Captain Riley Leroy Pitts would become the first black officer in American history to receive the Medal of Honor.
"What this man did in an hour of incredible courage will live in the history of America as long as America endures. His valor under fire moved him forever into that select company where the heroes of our history stand." (President Lyndon Johnson)
Black soldiers and heroes are the story in the documentary of Black Military History, "For Love of Liberty."