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369th Regiment Harlem Hellfighters from WWI Get Honored on LI

Members of the 369th African American Infantry (National Archives Catalog)

Shining new light on the contributions of the Harlem Hellfighters by Erick Trickey

It’s been 100 years since the end of World War I. The armistice signed in 1918 was supposed to bring the world together, but a group of American soldiers who were fighting for freedom and democracy had yet to experience those ideals in their own country. Michelle Miller reports.

WORLD WAR I: 100 YEARS LATER

One Hundred Years Ago, the 369th Regiment Harlem Hellfighters Bravely Led the U.S. Into WWI

Their courage made headlines across the country, hailing the African-American regiment as heroes even as they faced discrimination at home

Private Henry Johnson of Albany, New York, held tight his French Lebel rifle and stared into the darkness of no-man’s-land, listening for German raiders. Beyond the parapet, he could make out shapes and shadows under the waning moon.

Johnson was a 25-year-old railroad baggage porter, the son of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Under French command, he manned the front line of the Great War about 115 miles east of Paris on the early morning of May 15, 1918.

He heard a sound and turned to his partner in their tiny observation post, Needham Roberts, who gestured toward the direction of the noise. They heard it again: the snip of barbed wire being cut.


Johnson fired an illumination rocket into the sky, then ducked as German grenades flew toward him. The grenades exploded behind him, and pain struck his left leg and side. Roberts, bleeding from his head, threw grenades of his own back over the parapet. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/one-hundred-years-ago-harlem-hellfighters-bravely-led-us-wwi-180968977/

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