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Brownlee Books



Behind every living person lies a great story waiting to be told. One of the greatest tragedies of life is dying without telling your story. Regrettably, the stories and experiences of many African American WWII veterans are going untold.

I, like most children or grandchildren of veterans, was interested in what my grandfather experienced during his U.S. Army service during World War II. Although I would inquire, my grandfather would not discuss his Army service or wartime experiences during WWII.

A couple of decades later, I attempted to obtain a copy of my grandfather’s service record through the U.S. National Archives and started to conduct research regarding the wartime experiences of African American service men and women.

Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain my grandfather’s service record from the National Archives because there had been a devastating fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 12, 1973. The fire destroyed approximately 16–18 million Official Military Personnel Files. The estimated loss of Army personnel records for those discharged from November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1950, was about 80 percent, which included my grandfather’s service records.

Subsequently, I started in earnest in 2009 conducting research reviewing news reports, official military records and written records that documented the African American military experienced. I shared my research findings in virtual posts on a Facebook page as a way to honor and recognize the service and valor of African American men and women.

About the Book

"There is no Negro problem [in America]. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution."~ Fredrick Douglass, 'Narrative of the Life of Fredrich Douglass'.

My first book entitled — “African American Experience During World War II” — is an insightful and timely book regarding the military service and combat experiences of African American men and women during WWII. Although often overlooked in America’s remembrances of WWII, this book provides insights and details how African Americans, throughout World War II, pursued a Double Victory and battled adversaries on two fronts – the enemy of freedom and democracy overseas while simultaneously fighting against discrimination and racism at home.

African-Americans recognized the hypocritical paradox of fighting a world war for the "four freedoms'' espoused by then President Franklin Roosevelt while being subjected to prejudicial practices and institutional racism in the United States. The military's view toward African Americans leading up to and during World War II reflected that of the wider American society and culture. The accepted racist viewpoint of the day was that African American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were not equally capable as -- and would require more intensive leadership and training than -- their white counterparts. Furthermore, the military leadership believed black service members were unsuited to serve as commissioned officers. Despite the fact that African Americans have served, fought and died with courage and honor in every major war and conflict since the Revolutionary War.

By the end of the war, more than 1.2 million African Americans had served in the U.S. military during WWII. Yet, these African American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines constantly felt the need to prove themselves, to gain respect at home.