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NEVER FORGET...

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The 369th Infantry Regiment:
Harlem Hellfighters

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Harlem Hellfighters, byname of 369th Infantry Regiment, originally 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, nickname given to the 369th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army during World War I. The French government decorated the entire unit with the Croix de Guerre, its highest award for bravery, as well as 170 additional individual medals for valour. The 369th’s battlefield prowess was almost overshadowed by its contribution to music, however, as the Hellfighters’ regimental band was credited with bringing jazz to Europe.

The Hellfighters originated as the 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, a National Guard unit. Members of the African American community in New York City’s Harlem district had long advocated for the creation of a homegrown military unit, but white politicians blocked several attempts at establishing such a body. On June 2, 1913, a bill authorizing an African American National Guard regiment finally passed the New York state legislature, and Gov. William Sulzer signed it into law. However, the 15th New York existed in name only until June 1916, when Gov. Charles Whitman appointed William Hayward, his former campaign manager, to serve as its commanding officer. Hayward had been a colonel in the Nebraska National Guard, and he, like most of the field-grade officers in the unit, was white. 

Hayward proved to be an adept organizer, and he recognized the importance of incorporating African American soldiers into the unit’s officer corps. An early addition was Charles Fillmore, a Spanish-American War veteran who had been instrumental in the campaign to establish an African American regiment. Fillmore was commissioned a captain and made a company commander. However, despite an endorsement from the New York Age, arguably the most influential African American newspaper of its era, the 15th New York had trouble meeting its recruiting targets. At full strength, the regiment would field several thousand men, but by the end of the summer of 1916, only a fraction of that number had enlisted.

The Women's
Army Corps

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The Women's Army Corps (WAC) was the women's branch of the United States Army. It was created as an auxiliary unit, the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 15 May 1942 and converted to an active duty status in the Army of the United States as the WAC on 1 July 1943. Its first director was Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby.
The WAC was disbanded in 1978, and all units were integrated with male units.

The WAAC's organization was designed by numerous Army bureaus coordinated by Lt. Col. Gillman C. Mudgett, the first WAAC Pre-Planner; however, nearly all of his plans were discarded or greatly modified before going into operation because he expected a corps of only 11,000 women. 
Without the support of the War Department, Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill on 28 May 1941, providing for a Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. The bill was held up for months by the Bureau of the Budget but was resurrected after the United States entered the war. The senate approved the bill on 14 May 1942 and became law on 15 May 1942. 
The day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill, he set a recruitment goal of 25,000 women for the first year. That goal was unexpectedly exceeded, so the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson decided to increase the limit by authorizing the enlistment of 150,000 volunteers.
The WAAC was modeled after comparable British units, especially the ATS, which caught the attention of Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. In 1942, the first contingent of 800 members of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps began basic training at Fort Des Moines Provisional Army Officer Training School, Iowa. The women were fitted for uniforms, interviewed, assigned to companies and barracks and inoculated against disease during the first day.

About 150,000 American women eventually served in the WAAC and WAC during World War II.
While the conservative opinion in the leadership of the Army was initially opposed to women serving in uniform, as was public opinion, the shortage of men necessitated a new policy.
 
WACs working in the communications section of the operations room at an air force station.
While most women served stateside, some went to various places around the world, including Europe, North Africa, and New Guinea. For example, WACs landed on Normandy Beach just a few weeks after the initial invasion.

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