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Military

World War II soldiers

World War I draftees standing before the Hall of Records in Hartford, Conneticut near 1915. 

 

The first Black general was Benjamin O. Davis Sr., who was appointed on October 16, 1940.


The first Black general in the U.S. Air Force-and the second Black general-was B.O. Davis Jr., the son of the first Black general, who was appointed on October 27, 1954.  He retired in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant general.


The first Black four-star general was Daniel (Chappie) James, who was promoted to that rank and named Commander-in-Chief of the North American Air Defense Command on September 1, 1975.


The first Black Admiral in the U.S. Navy was Samuel Lee-Gravely Jr., who was appointed on April 28, 1971.


The first Black to head an armed forces base in the United States was B.O. Davis Jr., who was named commander of Godman Field (Ky.) on June 21, 1945.


The first Black to command an army division was Major General Frederic E. Davidson, who assumed command of the Eighth Infantry Division in Germany on April 19, 1972.


The first Black general in the Marine Corps was Frank E. Peterson Jr., who achieved the rank on February 23, 1979.


The first Black to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor was Sgt. William H. Carney, who was cited for gallantry in the charge of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers on Fort Wagner in the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor on July 18, 1863.  From the Spanish-American War to the Korean War, Blacks were denied Congressional medals of Honor because of their race.  


The first Black awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor after the Spanish-American War was Pfc. William Thompson of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was cited posthumously on June 21, 1951 for heroism in Korea.


The first Black graduate of the West Point Military Academy was Henry O. Flipper of Georgia, who was admitted on July 1, 1873 and graduated on June 15, 1877.  


The first Black student at West Point was James W. Smith of South Carolina, who was admitted on July 1, 1870.  He left the Academy on June 26, 1874 without receiving a degree.


The first Black graduate of the Annapolis Naval Academy  was Wesley A. Brown, who received his degree on June 3, 1949.  


The first Black Student at Annapolis, John Henry Conyers of South Carolina, did not graduate.  He was admitted on September 21, 1872.

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