The 5th Platoon of K Company was assigned to the 394th Infantry Regiment of the 99th Division, making the African-American men of the platoon the first integrated combat soldiers since the Revolutionary War. Of the nearly 1,000,000 African-Americans to serve in WWII, only a small handful were put in front line combat duty, and even fewer fought shoulder to shoulder with White comrades.
A recent eBay find turned into an interesting research piece for me. I had no idea black soldiers fought in the 99th Division, and the Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge present in the photo are indicators of a battle-hardened veteran of combat. All we know about his identity is that the photo was taken in November of 1945 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Maybe someone knows a way to narrow down the list of K Company men and discover his identity?
Want to read more about this topic? Check out the following sites for a slew of interested articles and photos: