The segregated 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division consisting of black soldiers commanded for the most part by white officers, is credited with the FIRST U.S. victory of the Korean War at Yechon. Faced with racial prejudice from much of their own Army and largely unjust bad press, the troops fought for eleven months in almost constant front-line action against massed numerically superior enemy forces.
This book tells the dramatic, often frustrating, sometimes heroic story of a black infantry platoon which fought as well as any other infantry platoon in the U.S. Army. The story that unfolds is one of honor, fear, fighting spirit, fierce combat and cries of wounded men ? all before integration of the services and the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.
The first year of the Korean Conflict was a dark and humiliating period for many of the troops who fought there. Against a backdrop of U.S. political indecision and reduced military capability, American soldiers fought a dedicated and numerically strong enemy force that was determined to overrun South Korea. One of these units, the segregated 24th Infantry Regiment, was made up of black soldiers commanded for the most part by white officers. Lyle Rishell, an infantry platoon leader, led a black platoon of Able Company in that regiment. This book tells the dramatic, often frustrating, sometimes heroic story of that platoon in that first, fateful year of war.
From detailed notes he made at the time, and from his memories of those days, Rishell reconstructs the deployment and tactics of his unit, its day-to-day actions and survival. The story that unfolds is one of honor, fear, fighting spirit, fierce combat, and the cries of wounded men.
The 24th Infantry Regiment has received bad press from many historians of the Korean War, who claim that the black soldiers and noncommissioned officers were undisciplined and even cowardly in battle. Rishell's moving account, based on his own experiences, describes his men as no better or worse than any other infantrymen in the first year in Korea. His troops fought well from July, 1950, to May, 1951, in nearly constant frontline action against the North Koreans and the Chinese Communists, despite a variety of significant fundamental obstacles, including the racial prejudice of much of their own army.
It is a unique and compelling story of the relationship of a white officer and black soldiers before integration of the services and the civil rights legislation of the sixties. It is also an important corrective to a poorly understood aspect of one of America's most dismal conflicts.
Lyle Rishell is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served as an officer with the 24th Infantry Regiment for eleven months during the Korean War. Among his decorations and awards are the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action and two Purple Hearts for wounds received during combat. He also holds the Legion of Merit and the Parachutist and Combat Infantryman's badges. Rishell holds degrees from the University of Maryland and the University of Arizona. He is currently a Professor of Marketing at George Mason University and lives in Potomac, Maryland.
"What [Rishell] concentrates on--with the elegant simplicity of a man who knows the value of life for having risked his own--is the life and death struggle of young men at war. . . . It's a story that's been told a hundred times before, but never like this. . . . He is, of course, conscious of the racial facts of life, but he is not self-conscious of them. . . . Read this book for its balance, for its simplicity, for its sincerity."--Friday Review of Defense Literature
"Rishell has written an account of his men--who fought not only the enemy but racial prejudice in their own army--that is straightforward and dramatic. . . . This is a distinguished addition to Korean War literature and a belated but deserved tribute to the fortitude of black fighting men."--Military History
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