Veterans

July 19, 2012

92nd Infantry Division officer revisits Fort Huachuca

Tags:
By Robert Anderson
Staff Writer

Retired Capt. Joseph Hairston poses with the unit streamers for the 92nd Infantry Division. Hairston was one of the first black officers commissioned to serve with the 92nd during World War II.

Retired Army Capt. Joseph Hairston, one of the first black officers commissioned to serve with the 92nd Infantry Division after its reactivation in 1942, made a surprise visit to the Fort Huachuca Museum on July 11. He was accompanied by his daughter.

Hairston was en route to a Buffalo Soldier event in Las Vegas when he decided he wanted to revisit his old stomping grounds in southeast Arizona. “I just wanted to come back and see the old fort,” he said.

Hairston was stationed here in 1943 until the summer of 1944.

Hairston was born in Axton, Va. However, his family moved to Connellsville, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh when he was 2. He describes Connellsville as a first-generation American town where he did not experience racial segregation and very little racism.

He says although he was a good student in high school, there were very few opportunities for black students after graduation. “There were no scholarships in 1940; if there were I was not aware. So, I didn’t know about going to college,” he explained.

Prior to entering the Army in fall 1940, Hairston worked at a local dairy in Connellsville. While at work one day, he saw a Soldier walking down the street in uniform and thought, “hey, that might not be a bad thing [joining the Army].”

After several failed attempts at the recruiter’s office, Hairston took matters into his own hands. “I wrote to all the black units, and they sent letters back saying, ‘no vacancies.’ The last unit I wrote to was a cavalry detachment at West Point, and they wrote back saying there was a vacancy in the medical detachment.” Following a successful interview, Hairston entered the Army as a private assigned to the 24th Infantry Medical Detachment at West Point.

After serving at West Point and later Camp Livingston, La., Hairston secured a slot at the officer candidate school at Fort Sill and was commissioned a field artillery officer. This happened soon after the reactivation of the 92nd Infantry division, and Hairston was assigned to the 599th Field Artillery Battalion.

As a second lieutenant Hairston arrived at Fort Huachuca in April 1943, accompanied by his wife and daughter. Because there was not housing for black officers, he was forced to live in less-than-ideal quarters.

“We lived in a [brothel] in town because there were no black officer quarters on the post. The building was split, and the black officers and their families lived in one half of the building, and the [hookers] lived in the other,” Hairston said, laughing.

The young officer left Fort Huachuca for Italy in the summer of 1944, where he served in combat until the 92nd was redeployed.

Although, Hairston experienced many hardships and challenges, he held the Army in high regard. “I joined a segregated Army, and I think the Army did a good job at desegregating. While a lot of people complained, I really enjoyed being in the Army,” Hairston stated..

Hairston would go on to retire from the Army as a captain in 1960.

During his visit to Fort Huachuca, Hairston spent nearly two hours with several of the museum staff members. He was offered a sneak peek at one of the museum’s newest acquisitions — an original World War II-era ‘Buffalo Soldier’ Army uniform. It came from a veteran who served in the 92nd Infantry Division.

Hairston also stopped by to take a look at the Mountain View Colored Officers’ Club.

“I didn’t come to the club often. I didn’t have much money as a second lieutenant with wife and child. But I came over a few times. I won a big jackpot playing cards once,” he said with a laugh.

Upon retirement from the Army, Hairston and his family settled in the Washington D.C. area where he continued to serve with the Internal Revenue Service as an attorney.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Stephanie Caffall

Women’s history showcased during special event Wednesday

Stephanie Caffall Fort Huachuca’s Thunder Mountain Activity Centre was the site of an event titled, “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” Wednesday in celebration for National Women’s History Month. After the reading...
 
 
DoD

DOD warns troops, families to be cyber crime smart

WASHINGTON — Defense Department employees and their families should be vigilant when guarding personal and work information from expanding cyber-criminal activity, and to know how to recognize scammer tactics, according to DOD’s chief information officer. Terry Halvorsen issued a DOD-wide memorandum March 18 about the growing threat of cybercrime “phishing” and “spear phishing” in e...
 
 

Army health leaders advocate for importance of nutrition

WASHINGTON — During National Nutrition Month in March, “we encourage each of you to renew a commitment to achieving your personal Performance Triad goals,” said Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” she said. The Performance Triad focuses on the importance of sleep, activity and nutrition...
 

 
Natalie Lakosil

Convoy exercise helps ready 111th MI Bde. for emergencies

Natalie Lakosil Soldiers from the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade take a short rest in lower Garden Canyon before returning to the motor pool as part of a convoy training exercise Wednesday. The exercise helps the brigade s...
 
 

Fort Huachuca Criminal Punishment Bulletin – February

For the month of February, in addition to Court-Martial and U.S. Federal Court Proceedings, 31 Soldiers were disciplined under Article 15, UCMJ; and 25 Soldiers were administratively separated, including 2 for misconduct. The following are notable recent criminal proceedings: A specialist assigned to the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion was tried at a General Court-Martial. The...
 
 
Natalie Lakosil

111th MI Bde. NCO, Soldier, Platoon Sgt. of Quarter winners selected

Natalie Lakosil Sgt. Jason Grider, Alpha Company, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, inspects uniforms during the in-ranks inspection portion of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade Non-commissioned Officer of the Quarte...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin