The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 13, April 1, 2007, Article 22


The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (serving West Central Georgia and East 
Alabama) published an article March 27th about a man's question for 
information on an unusual medal:

"He didn't know what to make of it when he found it in a field 
about 30 years ago.

"The item is a metal coin about the size of a half dollar. It's 
not currency. On one side of the coin are an eagle and the profile 
of a black soldier with the inscription 'Our Colored Heroes." On 
the other are crossed U.S. flags with an inscription: "World War 
began August 1, 1914. U.S. entered April 6, 1917. War ended Nov. 
11, 1918.'

"The Phenix City resident says he is a coin collector and has 
contacted others with similar interests here and elsewhere, but 
he has had no luck with identifying the origin of the coin.

"He has been to museums and checked with civic groups. He has 
searched on the Internet. He has hunted for a patent. He has 
checked with people in the military.

"Adams found that more than 350,000 blacks served in segregated 
units during World War I. Though they were eager to fight, they had 
to provide support services. Many blacks did fight alongside the 
French, with 171 members of the 369th Infantry Regiment being awarded 
the French Legion of Honor. He found there was still a lot of 
military segregation during World War II as well.

"He has enjoyed researching and reading about blacks in the military, 
such as the Buffalo Soldiers, members of the calvary who fought 
Indians in the 1800s, and the legendary Tuskegee Airmen who flew to 
fame in World War II.

"He just wishes he could find out more about the coin."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[So, readers - any ideas? Has anyone seen this medal before? An 
image accompanies the article. An eBay search turned up at least 
one other (item# 260090072245). Another eBay item (#130080210754) 
is a chromolithograph print dated 1918. It was sold by Swann 
Galleries for $800.00. The lot description reads:

"Our Colored Heroes. Henry Johnson, Needham Roberts. Honored as 
Heroes. Chromolithograph "uplift" print, 20x16 inches. Chicago: 
Renesch, 1918 

"Before daylight on May 15, Pte. Henry Johnson and Pte. Roberts 
while on sentry duty at some distance from one another, were 
attacked by a German raiding party estimated at twenty men . . . 
Both men fought bravely in hand-to-hand encounters, one resorting 
to the use of a bolo knife after his rifle jammed . . ."The two 
single-handedly were able to rout the Germans. The French were 
the only ones to recognize their bravery by awarding them the 
Croix-de-Guerre medal."

Now, the medal has no reference to this particular incident, so it 
may be nothing more than a general tribute to black soldiers. But 
if a publisher went to the trouble of producing the print, the 
incident must have been reasonably well publicized at the time.

An Internet search on the two men's names led to the following item 
on the Arlington National Cemetery web site:

"Henry Johnson and a fellow soldier, Needham Roberts, were on sentry 
duty when they came under attack one night in May 1918 by a 20-man 
German raiding party. Johnson drew his bolo knife from his belt and 
fought off the Germans. Despite suffering three grenade and shotgun 
wounds, he went to the aid of Roberts who was being taken prisoner 
by the enemy."

"The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Henry Johnson, 
Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in France 
during the period 13 - 15 May 1918."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


  Wayne Homren, Editor

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