The Harlem Hellfighters, the 369th Infantry Regiment that fought in WWI (and spent more time on the battleground than any other American unit), is one of the most important groups that fought in any American war.
They were first treated as laborers in the war, then literally given to the ally French as a throwaway, even after a U.S. General said they would never supply the French with American soldiers.
Despite the disrespect…the Hellfighters saw their opportunity to actually fight and took it with great pride.
One of the most heroic acts was the act of Hellfighter Private Henry Johnson, who practically fought off multiple German soldiers with his knife and bare hands. It’s some real superhero ‘ish.
Unfortunately, Johnson wasn’t officially recognized for his efforts until President Barack Obama posthumously gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor — in 2015.
In all, the Harlem Hellfighters came back from the war as heroes — to the French. The Americans didn’t want to return the favor in any hopes they would use their new praise to demand equality on American soil.
Because only in America would you fight for the same nation that would still give you 2nd class treatment.
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