Paper On Respect In The Military

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In May 1917, Fort Des Moines opened its doors to black officer-trainees.

Approximately 1,250 men attended the camp in Des Moines, Iowa.

Future black candidates attended either special training camps in Puerto Rico (from which 433 officers graduated), the Philippines, Hawaii, and Panama, or regular officer training facilities in the United States .

The Army had no written policy on what to do if an officer training camp became integrated, so each camp was allowed to decide for itself the manner in which the integration was executed.

Although comprising just ten percent of the entire United States population, blacks supplied thirteen percent of inductees.

While still discriminatory, the Army was far more progressive in race relations than the other branches of the military. The four established all-black Regular Army regiments were not used in overseas combat roles but instead were diffused throughout American held territory.They practiced drilling with and without arms, signaling, physical training, memorizing the organization of the regiment, reading maps, and training on the rifle and bayonet.However, as Ballou noted after the war, the men doing the training did not take the job very seriously, and seemed to consider the school, and the candidates, a waste of time.The standard volunteer system proved to be inadequate in raising an Army, so on Congress passed the Selective Service Act requiring all male citizens between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the draft.Even before the act was passed, African American males from all over the country eagerly joined the war effort.Now instead of turning blacks away, the draft boards were doing all they could to bring them into service, southern draft boards in particular.One Georgia county exemption board discharged forty-four percent of white registrants on physical grounds and exempted only three percent of black registrants based on the same requirements.On 15 October 1917, 639 African-American men received their commissions as either captain or first or second lieutenant, and were assigned to infantry, artillery, and engineer units with the 92d Division.This was to be the first and only class to graduate from Fort Des Moines; the War Department shut it down soon after their departure.In 1869, the infantry regiments were reorganized into the 24th and 25th Infantry.The two cavalry regiments, the 9th and 10th, were retained.


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