My Grandfather, Sam Walton Jr.
Grandpa Sam's Headstone
Oak Cemetery, Ft. Smith, Arkansas
My grandfather served in France with the 809th Pioneer Infantry and like many, their task was confined to those of stevedores. The work was hard and strong men were needed to unload supplies needed for the front. Because of their color, few in the pioneer infantries were allowed to fight, but the men of Pioneer infantries served nobly and without complaint.
Eventually some of these men were absorbed into French units where they did see battle and many gave their lives also for the freedom that their descendants would have to wait another 40 years to enjoy.
But whether they served as stevedores at the docks or on the front, like the 361st eventually did, all of these men of color embraced their tasks and served their nation with honor.
Black Soldiers of WWI on t he March
It can truly be said of these American soldiers and their ilk in the campaign in France that 'the colored troops fought nobly'". Photo and quotation from "America's War for Humanity"
In my grandfather's honor on this Memorial Daym 2013, I once again include this poem written in honor of the Pioneer Infantry stevedores.
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