Why is this history so important?
“Fort Huachuca is the home of the African American soldier in the United States".
The First African American troops to arrive in Arizona at Fort Huachuca were the Buffalo Soldiers in the 1890s — the 9th and 10th Cavalries. The Fort Huachuca Buffalo Soldiers distinguished themselves in the Spanish American War and the charge up San Juan Hill. They were part of the Punitive Expedition into Mexico and were sent to Camp Naco, Arizona, Camp Little in Nogales and other locations in Arizona to guard the Arizona Borders during the Mexican Revolution. The 24th and 25th infantry regiments served at Fort Huachuca until WW II.
During the WW II, Fort Huachuca was the home of the only two Black Divisions in the history of the U.S. Army, the 92nd & 93rd Divisions and subsequently the largest concentration of black officers Overnight, the old army post grew into a modem war installation and the third largest city in the state, with an enormous cantonment area of 1400 new wood framed buildings. They included barracks, hospitals, maintenance structures, offices, and warehouses. The larger of the two hospitals was the only black-commanded and -staffed hospital in the Army and the largest in the country.
New recreation facilities sprung up in this new war complex. Foster Ball Field was named for Rube Foster, the manager of the Chicago Negro baseball teams and the Father of Negro Baseball. Brock Baseball Field was named in honor of Sgt Fred Brock, who was the first 92nd Division soldier to die at this post of duty. The 15,000-capacity football field was dedicated to Sgt. Andrew Wells. The training ring for Joe Lewis was just below the Mountain View Black Officers Club, which he visited almost daily.
In 1942 the Mountain View Black Officers Club opened its doors to hundreds of black officers. It was the only one of its kind ever designed for this purpose in the history of the United States. For the thousands of black officers and enlisted men it was their social center on Fort Huachuca It was the soldier’s clubhouse, their entertainment center.
Mountain View one of a kind
Yes, Mountain View was one of a kind, alive and bristling with activity. The Fort Huachuca swing band members were the pick of the enlisted musicians in the West. It was alive with activities, performances, parties, weddings, sing- along, dancing shows and concerts. It had a hobby shop, game rooms, lounge, a library and a roomy balcony for candle light dinners or just a quiet time for letters to love ones.
Outside celebrities performed in the club, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Dinah Shore and others. Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis visited the club depicted African American military service in the U.S. Armed Forces from 1778 through World War One. Perhaps the one event that illustrated the role of the Mountain View Club as the center of African American activity at Fort Huachuca was the opening of an exhibit of paintings in May of 1943, by Vernon Winslow, Hale Woodruff and Sculptor Richmond Barthe, three of the nation’s outstanding figures in African American art.
The song "Huachuca" was written and composed by Captain Joe Jordan, a famous composer and arranger while stationed at Fort Huachuca.
An original musical show produced and written at Fort Huachuca "GI Rhapsody," traveled the state and was filmed by Hollywood. In two War Bond drives, post bands raised over $3,000,000.00 for the war effort.
Now it stands alone
Today, on Fort Huachuca, the 17,000-square-foot Mountain View Black Officers Club stands alone. All the rest of the World War II buildings, all the hospitals, barracks, mess halls, theaters and chapels, they are all gone, and in 1998, the demolition of building 66050 had begun, but was stopped and the subsequent study of the 66050 revealed its history as a Black Officers Club During WWII.
Telling its tale
If you go up close to the Mountain View Black Officers Club today, you can hear it crying out.
"What are you doing, you can’t be tearing me down, stop! You can’t do this, I have been here so long and I have tried so hard to prove that I belong here. I tried my best to stand tall with undying devotion to the soldiers stationed here. After the war, I was an NCO Club for the soldiers, then I had several other duties and my last one was a dinner theater.
"I supported and entertained thousands of people over the years; don't you know this, stop! Stop, you pulled all my lights down! My restrooms are gone, you have taken away my outside cooling system and the roads that lead people to my doors are almost gone, why, I have been so faithful, please don't do this! I still have so much to do and so many stories to tell you about, please, I have been waiting for over 60 years for someone to remember my past and open my doors once again. "
"My history must not be taken away, who will remember me, and the brave soldiers who danced and sang songs on my ball room floors, used my tables for relaxing games and to write letters to love ones back home, my walls have so many good memories.
"If you just cease tearing me down, I can tell you about Lt. Vernon Baker, who was one of only seven African Americans to receive the Congressional Medal Of Honor in 1997 for their heroism during World War II. Please!! Stop, I want to tell about Sergeant Eddie Carter, who was one of 2221 African American soldiers who volunteered to go into combat during the Battle of the Bulge and was one of the seven to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
"Wait!! Don‘t you understand, I want to tell you about, the Buffalo Soldiers of WWI whom the Germans called hell fighters; the four Buffalo Soldier Regiments who charged up San Juan Hill; the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Indian Wars and, Stop!! Come back, don't you hear me? There were the Tuskegee airmen, the Navaho Code talkers, the up San Juan Hill, the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Indian Wars, the Filipino units of the United States Armed forces of the Far East, the Japanese Americans l00th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Point Montford Marines, the, 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion,” Red Ball Express, Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), and Women Air force Pilots of(WWII), the Mexican American troops whose stories I can tell you I have so much work left to do. Can’t you hear me?"
The Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers hears your cries. We see you, we understand and we will tell the world about you. The people of America also understand and they want to learn from you. You are no longer alone. Your stories are the stories of American soldiers who wanted freedom, equality, and justice not only for themselves but also for all the people of the world and many gave their lives for those ideals.
The National Park Service now hears you, they believe you’re the most significant WWII buildings left standing and they want to help you tell your story. The National Park Service is going to give you their Native American Buffalo Soldier Data Center. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a study of you and found you to eligible to he listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On the most-endangered list
Yes, the Buffalo Soldiers are telling America about you. More and more people of American are signing up every day to save you. The National Trust intends to place you on the Arizona most-endangered Properties List. The American Legion, Bill Carmichael Post 52 has pledged $5000 to save you, yes they do hear you, and more organizations will also join in. The University of Arizona has heard your plea; they are going to provide thousands of dollars to your Research Center
The people of America are going to open your doors once again. When your renovation is completed, you will stand tall and proud, as a living memorial to the troops of WWII and soldiers who served our county in conflicts long ago. You will be unique, one of a kind: A research museum complex with n theater.
Yes, a 150-seat theater, which will have the capability of producing plays from historical data, having the plays, recorded on CDs with the latest electronic recording equipment. Your New Educational Outreach Center will then distribute the cds to educational institutions mound the United States.
Your Museum or Historical Center will have up to 16 theme rooms telling the stories of African American military contributions to America never told or long forgotten. Your new Community Outreach Center will develop programs whereby individuals and community organizations will be able to interact with you.
They will have the opportunity to learn and be inspired in your large lecture and exhibit halls. Individuals will be able to conduct research in your Library and make copies in your state of the art copy center. Most importantly after 60 years, your chambers and halls will be filled with the Buffalo Soldiers of today dedicated to preserving and telling your stories and of the stories of the men and women who were inspired to serve by the deeds of Buffalo Soldiers long ago.