By Kay

Have you ever wondered just what some of those images are that we use on our advertising for Black History Month?. Let's take a look at some of the images used in the making of our flyer for Black History Month 2017.

The 369th Infantry Regiment, aka the Harlem Hellfighters, formerly known as the 15th New York National Guard Regiment, was an infantry regiment of the United States Army National Guard during World War I and World War II (1913-1945). The Regiment consisted mainly of African Americans, though it also included a number of Puerto Rican Americans during World War II. It was the first African American regiment to serve with American forces in World War I. Before that, if an African-American wanted to fight, they would have to join the forces of France or Canada. This unit was given numerous nicknames: The Black Rattlers, the Men of Bronze and Hell Fighters.

In the beginning, the regiment was relegated to labor service duties instead of combat.  On April 8, 1918, the unit was assigned to the French Army, and finally, on May 8, 1918, the 369th was sent to the trenches. From then on they fought. The unit was awarded two Medals of Honor and a regimental Croix de Guerre. The most celebrated man in the 369th was Pvt. Henry Johnson, a former Albany, New York, rail station porter, who earned the nickname "Black Death" for his actions in combat in France. “While on night sentry duty, May 15, 1918, Johnson and a fellow Soldier, Pvt. Needham Roberts, received a surprise attack by a German raiding party of at least 12 enemy soldiers.

“While under intense fire and despite his own wounds, Johnson kept an injured Needham from being taken prisoner. He came forward from his position to engage an enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded, Johnson continued fighting until the enemy retreated.

 “For his valor, Johnson became one of the first Americans to be awarded the French Croix de Guerre avec Palme, France's highest award for valor. Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, with the official ceremony taking place in 2003.” (from the Army website.)

For more information, visit, Harlem’s Blog, American National Biography Online, ArmyMil, and the U.S. Army website, or read "Harlem's Rattlers and the Great War: the Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality" by Jeffrey T. Sammons.