SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Now you can have a window into the world of Black soldiers as they trained in Arizona to risk their lives in World War Two. Wartime newspapers published for soldiers at Fort Huachuca are available on line.
Fort Huachuca was a center for training Black soldiers in the segregated Army of World War Two---an extension of the Black units known as Buffalo Soldiers first assigned to the post in 1913.
Post historian Paul Pipik says troops preparing for World War Two faced a tough training environment.
“It was a live fire type of an environment, the troops knew they were heading for real battle. And they spent their days learning how to maneuver, how to communicate, how to use their weapons, how to repair injuries, and all the things that they were going to have to do.”
But when they could take a break, Fort Huachuca troops had newspapers, written and published by their fellow soldiers reflecting life on the post.
“They didn't really get a chance to travel much or go to many places. So social events, just the local scuttlebutt, who's getting promoted, all that kind of news was really pretty much put out in in the divisional newspapers and there was a significant effort put into publishing those every day.”
Now newspapers you could only view at Fort Huachuca itself are available on line at the Arizona Secretary of State’s Arizona Memory project.
They show how life on the post could include morale-raising visits from Black celebrities like famous singer Lena Horne, or champion boxer Joe Louis.
“Joe Louis did a demonstration sparring round with some poor guy from the divisional boxing team, you know, who agreed to get in and get knocked around by the biggest boxing star of the period.”
Pipik says most of the soldiers came from the rural South and many returned there but the newspapers told them about their potential for better jobs after the war. Pipik says the Army offered all soldiers benefits through the GI Bill.
“That isn't to say there weren't all kinds of issues and biases that took place within the army. But at the same time, the Army tried to be even handed at the policy level, in most cases, I would say. So they would get the same advice than any GI leaving the service at the end of the Second World War would have gotten.”
But Blacks who stayed in the military remained segregated until three years after World War Two, when President Harry Truman ordered an end to segregation in all services as an official policy.