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The Armed Forces Integrate

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Unprepared Soldiers Are Overwhelmed

National Archives and Records Administration
Newsreel: "The Americans engaged in a bitter holding action. Trading space for time in Korea. The enemy infiltrating behind our lines had to be fought where you found him..."

As Korea got underway, black troops on occupation duty in Japan were hurried into battle. Among them, the 24th Army Infantry Regiment, one of the military's most famous all-black units, and one of its last. The 24th Infantry had a proud history, dating back to the unit's creation just after the Civil War. They were nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian Wars in the American West. But in the chaotic early months of combat in Korea, the 24th foundered. The North Koreans swarmed over the new infantrymen.

Jesse Brown, a veteran who was part of the 24th, explains, "They were firing at us with everything they had. And guys, first time I had heard men hollering and crying and first time I smelled as much blood as I smelled laying there on the ground. Guys that I knew were hollering out. We couldn't see one another we were just calling out 'Who's hit? Who's hit?' and they were hollering 'medic medic medic.' "


"Off at the front, 30 miles north of Taejon on 7 July, United States infantrymen have been forced to withdraw before North Korean tank columns. Their routine is to dig in, fire, withdraw. Dig in, and fire again on practically an around-the-clock schedule."

Next: Bugging Out

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