Sunday, February 05, 2012

The US Navy's Black History

In 1976, America and Canada designated February as Black History Month.   This is my contribution.

With all the hoopla over the Red Tails, the Army Air Corps all black airmen from the Tuskegee Institute (see above) who flew with distinction during WWII, I thought the Navy needed to be represented, too.

The Navy only had two ships with a mostly all black crew.  The CO’s and XO’s were white and, at the beginning, a few white senior NCO’s.  As the black sailors became more proficient in their rates (jobs) and received promotions, the crew finally became all black.  These were also the first back men to advance in rates other than Stewards and Cooks.

The two ships were the USS Mason DD529, a Destroyer Escort, the first to have an all-black crew,

and the USS PC1264, a small ship designated as a Sub Chaser.

Not all service ships had names assigned to them during WWII.  Thus the PC1264 hull number was how she was known.

Both ships came on line and served toward the end of the war and were used as convoy escort.  They each made several crossings and ported in Ireland and England. 

After the war the Mason was used as a reserve training ship before being sold and scrapped, and the 1264 was sold and scrapped in 1945.

Both ships received accolades for their service for their braver and proficiency from the Merchant Marine and Navy Cargo ships the protected, but the men did not received the proper recognition by historians for their service until the 1990’s.

After the war, the Navy went back to a segregated unit until President Truman integrated the service.

So I am giving a hand salute to the men who served and protected their country and did not receive the recognition they deserved.  Hardly! They came home to the same bigotry they faced before they entered the service.

1 comment:

Janie Junebug said...

Thank you for posting this, Coffey. It's important for us to remember the past so we learn from our mistakes. And as I've said before, we need to make sure young people learn some history because they won't get it in school.

Janie Junebug