On June 23, 2010 First Lieutenant George B. Edwards will be HONORED as California's Veteran of the Year. This HONOR is well deserved by LT Edwards. LT. Edwards is one of the last living "Buffalo Soldiers".
George B. Edwards served his country when the world was at war. His return home from the war was to the same home in the south that he had left. He was a “Buffalo Soldier.”
George Edwards was born October 17, 1919 in Evansville, Indiana. He was quick to point out that Indiana was a slave state and that the local VFW was next to the local Klu Klux Klan office.
Edwards enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC camp) on February 18,1941. This hit a piece of my heart. My father was also a member of the CCC camp. Edwards enlisted as a private and rose through the ranks to Master Sergeant. The CCC was a paramilitary organization, with the focus of providing jobs during the “Great Depression”.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed his dreams of civilian life ended. Edwards was due to be discharged on December 6, 1941. Edwards was transferred to the regular Army and attached to the 92nd Infantry Division 370th Battalion. He trained at Fort McClellan Alabama and Fort Huachuca Arizona.
Sergeant Edwards entered Officer Candidate School November 26, 1942 and graduated February 24, 1943 as a Second Lieutenant United States Army Infantry Officer.
The 92nd Infantry Division was under the control of General Edward Almond. Lt Edwards did not like General Almond’s. The general was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He was considered to be a “racists” as the army was segregated.
The division received orders to go to the European Theatre and was transferred to the command of the 5th Army under Commanding Major General Mark Clark. Lt Edwards gave praise to General Clark, who was a West Point graduate.
Lt. Edwards commanded an infantry platoon during the battles of Rome-Arno, PO Valley and Northern Apennines. On March 8, 1945 Lt. Edwards was wounded in the spine during the battle of PO Valley. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star “V” for Valor above and beyond the call of duty.
On one very sad note regarding “race relations” in America. When the 92nd Division returned home and was about to enter New York Harbor, the ship he was on positioned itself so the Statue of Liberty could not be seen by the “Colored” troops.
Lt. Edwards and other “Colored” Army Officers were sent to Fort McClellan for an “American Re-Orientation Course Colored Officers”. I asked what the reason was behind the course. He said two words. “Jim Crow”. They wanted to let him know he was no longer an officer and a gentleman. He was back in the southern states of America.
Lt. Edwards will be honored on June 23, 2010 in Sacramento, California as California Veteran of the Year 2010.