Did You Know?

If you are looking for some little known facts about the military and African Americans in the military, take a look at this section of the NABVETS website. The question to you is "Did you know?" If you have an interesting fact about a service person and would like to share it with us, feel free to submit your "Did You Know" fact to us at:     KYNABVETS13.com , and have it posted her on our site.

Brigadier General Charles Young

Omega Man

Col. Charles Young

Charles Young was born in Mays Lick, Kentucky in a small cabin on march 12, 1864. His parents, Gabriel and Arminta Young were slaves, but were freed after the Civil War. As a young boy his family moved to Ripley, Ohio where Charles received his high school education and also taught at the high school in Ripley.

In June of 1884, Charles was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy. He was the third African American to graduate from the Academy out of nine cadets that had entered the academy to that point. He graduated 49th out of 49. There were many challenges he faced attending the academy with the tough academic work there was also the verbal abuse of him being a black man. He was often referred to as the "load of coal." Upon his graduation from the academy in 1889 he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the Tenth Cavalry Regiment. His field duty was always spent in black regiments.

A linguist, Charles was able to speak several languages Greek, Latin, French Spanish and German. He was also "popular as a musician, vocalist, violinist, pianist and composer." As a musician and composer he was well accomplished at the piano, harp, cornet and ukulele. He wrote a drama entitled "Toussaint L'Ouverture" an essay entitled "Military Moral of Races" and a collection of poetry called "Long Wings." His musical compositions were a collection of hymn called "Offertory", "Beatitudes" and a number of serenades.

1889 Congress authorized a system of military attaches with the job of observing training and exercises of foreign armies. Charles Young was one of the first of these attaches from 1904 - 1907 where he was attache to the American legation in Port Au Prince, Hatti. He reported to the Second Division of the War Department in Washington, D.C., which was created with the responsibility to collect and disseminate military information. In 1908 Young joined his regiment in the Philippines where he commanded a squadron of two troops. In 1912 he was once again assigned to attached duty in Liberia. Young was most known for his leadership in the Punitive Ecpedition in Mexico in pursuit of Poncho Villa. Young led the 2nd Squadron in against the Villista forces in 1916. Beltran's 150 men were driven out with no loss to Young's squadron. He was medically retired in 1917 for high blood pressure and Bright’s disease.

Wanting to command his troops in World War 1, Colonel Young rode from Ohio to Washington, D.C. on horseback as a show of his fitness. Young wrote of his experience: "As soon as the school year was over, I rode on horseback from Wilberforce to Washington, walking on foot fifteen minutes in each hour, the distance of 497 miles to show, if possible, my physical fitness for command of troops. I there offered my services gladly at the risk of life, which has no value to me if I cannot give it for the great ends for which the United States is striving."

Young did not get the chance to serve and fight with his troops in France in WW1. Not because he did not want to or did not have the ability, but because of the color of his skin. It was thought that an African American leader would invalidate the theory that had to be maintained within the United States to continue to deny equality to the descendants of older victims of inhumanity.

Young managed to get back in Active Duty with the Ohio National Guard where he served until 1918 and was attached to Liberia, where he died on January 8th,1922. Young was interred by the British with military honors. According to British law, Young's body could not be exhumed until after one year had passed. June 1, 1923 Colonel Charles Young was brought back to the U.S. where he was lain to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Major O.J. W. Scott, 10th Cavalry chaplain, said about Young, Colonel Young was a polite gentleman of good manners always; he believed that it is right to make sacrifices for those whom we love. He had great faith in his race. In turn his race had great faith in him. He often taught that it does not pay to hate anyone.

View the entire program here Charles Young

Major Martin Robinson Delany

First black field officer

Major Martin Robinson Delany

A big part in the recruiting process of black soldiers during the Civil War was an expatriate from Virginia by the name of Martin Robinson Delany. Martin Delany was born free in West Virginia on May 6, 1812. His mother was given her freedom along with her parents after some time of being enslaved in Virginia. In his youth, an attempt was made to enslave Martin and his younger sibling. His mother took both children and walked 20 miles to the courthouse in Winchester to argue for her family's freedom based on her on free birth. She won her case. Martin and his siblings were taught to read and write early and illegally by their mother. They used the New York Primer and a spelling book given to them by a peddler.

During the Civil War Delany was given audience with then President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Delany proposed that, "I propose, sir, an army of Blacks, commanded by Black officers. This army to penetrate the heart of the South, with the banner Emancipation unfurled, proclaiming freedom as they go. By arming the emancipated, taking them as fresh troops, we could soon have an army of 40,000 Blacks in motion. It would be an irresistible force." Lincoln accepted Delany's proposal and asked that Delany command this unit. On February 26th free Black Delany was commissioned as Major Martin R. Delany of the United States Army.

Leroy Wilton Homer Jr.

Pilot from flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001

Leroy Wilton Homer Jr.

In September, America marked the tenth anniversary of 9/11. A tragedy which seems it took place a short while ago. One thing that some people might observe and question is what the impact of 9/11 was on African Americans who bravely gave their lives for our country. Leroy Wilton Homer Jr. was an African-American first officer operating the flight that tragically fell in an act of terrorism in Shanksville , PA on Sept. 11, 2001. Pilot Homer's plane was the 4th attacked that day.

Leroy Homer was born in Long Island, New York and as a young child he dreamed of flying. At 15 years old he started flight instructions in a Cessna 152. By the time he was 18, Homer had obtained his private pilot's license. That same year, he joined the Air Force and became a Second Lieutenant. He served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield and later supported efforts in Somalia. During his tenure, Homer was named the 21st Air Force Air Crew Instructor of the Year. Homer achieved the rank of Captain before his honorable discharge from active duty in 1995.

For his actions on board Flight 93, Homer received many posthumous awards and citations, including honorary membership in the historic Tuskegee Airmen, the Congress Of Racial Equality's (CORE), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award, the Southern Christian Leader Conference Drum Major for Justice Award and the Westchester County Trailblazer Award.

Leroy Homer is survived by his wife, Melodie, and daughter, Laurel.

5th US Colored Cavalry Massacre

January 25, 1865

A Massacre in Simpsonville

Traveling down US-60 between Simpsonville, KY. and Louisville, KY. a small plot of land sits aside the road. Historical marker 2283 is posted, Old Glory and MIA/POW flags waving in the breeze and several grave plots of soldiers from years past. The marker's title reads, "Horrible Massacre. On January 25, 1865, the Co. E of the 5th US Colored Cavalry was tricked and ambushed by confederate guerrillas.

As the story is written, troops of 5th US Cavalry, under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Augustus Flint, were in the process of herding 900 cattle to Louisville from Shelbyville. In the evening of January 24, they stopped at a farmhouse near Simpsonville to bed down for the night at a willing farmer's property. Confederate guerrilla spies were sent out that same evening to observe and gather information. They came upon the property of the farmer and could see who the soldiers were that were there and also the cattle in the field. one of the spies infiltrated the camp and found out who was in command and where Lt. Flint was staying. He approached Flint and offered his assistance with the herding to Louisville. Lt. Flint was so appreciative of this gesture that he agreed and even offered up vital information on the size of his command, how many cattle in the herd and even his boots to the spy. With this information, the confederate returned to his commander and passed along the information of how many troops there were, how they were untrained and would be tired from chasing cattle in the dark from his releasing the cattle. And the best part of all, how he was able to get the Lt. Flint's boots from him.

With this great hand given information, a group of confederate guerrillas, commanded by Captain Dick Taylor, devised a plan to attack the 5th Cavalry and take all the cattle. On the morning of January 25th, as the small groups of troops were herding the cattle through Simpsonville, Lt. Flint stopped at a local store to purchase boots to replace the ones that he had borrowed from the farmer after giving his away to the spy. As he was making his purchase, a citizen rushed into the store with the cry, "here comes Taylor and his guerrillas!" Capt. Taylor and his men attacked the small groups of the 5th Cavalry, killing upwards of 25 soldiers and bragging about it. Out of the 41 soldiers of the 5th Cavalry that were attacked only two survived. One fell face down in the snow and played dead, the other hide under an overturned wagon. Oh and Lt. Flint did survive, after hearing that Capt. Taylor and his gorillas were coming, he ran and hid under the store. After the smoke had cleared, Capt. Taylor his mean gone, Flint came out of hiding from under the store, got on his horse and hurried off on a path to Louisville, with no boots.

The 5th Cavalry Memorial
In memory of:
Co. E 5th US Colored Cavalry
SERG. Harrison Lampkins CORP. Lewis Morton
PVT. Marcellus McCall PVT. Frank Ford
PVT. George White PVT. James Hackley
PVT. Alexander Seals PVT. Samuel Huff
PVT. Samuel Morton PVT. David Parish
SERG. Benjamin Lewis CORP. Jerry Morton
PVT. Isaac Hodgers PVT. Anderson Gray
PVT. Henry Harrison PVT. Lewis Jones
PVT. Allen Coleman PVT. Shelby Phelps
PVT. Jacob Padick PVT. Moton Murthey
PVT. Albert Thompson Farrier Walker Bailey

Uley T. Washington Jr.

Thank you and Salutes go out to Uley T. Washington Jr. (1958 - 2012), His research and gathering the information for the memorial is a testiment to the military spirit and way to "complete the mission." His work and dedication of gathering as much information as he could to assure the fallen soldiers headstones correct. His dedication in working to have this plot labeled as a Historic site. And his honor and connection to his fellow scouts for never giving up on this work in honor of them. "Scouts Out!" Mr. Uley served as a Cavalry scout during desert storm himself.

Cathay Williams

Female Buffalo Solider

Cathay Williams

Cathay Williams was a freed slave woman, who made the decision to join the Army when Congress passed a law that granted the first ever Black regiment, which would carry the name of Buffalo Soldiers. Even though women were not permitted to be in the military, she disguised herself as a man and became William Cathay.

In 1842 Cathay Williams was born into slavery to William Johnson. She worked for him up until his death. She was liberated by the Union Army where she worked and was paid. She worked for Colonel Thomas Hart Benton and General Philip Sheridan, traveling with them as a cook and wash woman. She saw military life as she witnessed raids in the Shenandoah Valley and in other areas of the country.

Once the war ended, she wanted to continue to be financially secure, so she disguised herself as a man and became William Cathay. She entered the military and was assigned to the 38th United States Infantry. She was able to get away with her hoax at that time due to the lack of thorough medical exams. Only two people knew of her secret a cousin and a friend. She did her duties as an officer, protecting miners, immigrants, and many others. But it all caught up with her when she began having health problems. In 1868, Cathay wanted to exit the Army. She went to a hospital with health issues. It was at this time that she was found out and was discharged on October 14, 1868. She was given and honorable discharge with paper for her medical issues. She was the first woman to serve as a Buffalo Soldier. She later worked as a cook, washwoman and nurse where she settled down in Trinidad, Colorado.

In 1890 she was admitted into hospital for over a year for health problems. Once she was discharged from the hospital, she was penniless and would ask for pension from the Army. However after reviewing her claim, it was rejected and since she was a female and not legal in the Army, she was also denied any time of compensation from the military. Not much is known as to what happened to her but it appears she passed away before 1900.


The African American Military History Museum

Hattiesburg, Miss.

306 E. 6th Street
Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Museum website


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