cover image Twice Forgotten: African Americans and the Korean War: An Oral History

Twice Forgotten: African Americans and the Korean War: An Oral History

David P. Cline. Univ. of North Carolina, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4696-6453-8

Historian Cline (From Reconciliation to Revolution) presents in this immersive history the first-person accounts of Black soldiers who served in the Korean War. He delves into the history of the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment, which “acquired one of the longest records of unrelieved service on the front lines” before it was disbanded in 1951, and notes that Black newspapers and the NAACP demanded a role for Black servicemen beyond the traditional menial functions of transport and food services. Interview subjects, including congressmen John Conyers and Charles Rangel, recount resistance to integration at the military bases where they trained, and vividly describe harsh winter conditions in Korea. Though President Truman claimed in 1950 that “all of America is proud of our Negro fighters in Korea,” racist incidents persisted, as did unfounded accusations that Black troops were “bugging out” under fire. Harrowing close calls abound—Rangel says that during the battle of Kunu-ri Pass “the whole concept of my life began anew because I knew then that I was dead.” After the war, returning Black servicemen were “rudely reintroduced to Jim Crow,” and some took leading roles in the civil rights movement. Richly detailed and thoughtfully presented, this is a treasure chest of insight into the Black military experience. (Jan.)