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.


 
 

 
haynes3_62415_lakosil

Family, faith, focus Resiliency helps Soldier heal from extensive combat wounds

Maj. Jeremy Haynes, Warrior Transition Brigade, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Maryland, and wife Chelsea speak with Capt. Kate Degategno, Alpha Company, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, in Alvarado Hall, F...
 
 
U.S. Army Photo by Lisa Tourtelot

RWBAHC welcomes new top doc to command

U.S. Army Photo by Lisa Tourtelot Lt. Col. Edgar Arroyo, the new commander of Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, accepts the command colors from Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel, the commanding general of Western Regional Medical Comm...
 
 
Photo by Capt. Bee Vengthisane

Signal Soldiers celebrate regimental birthday at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas– Signaleers from Fort Hood and other installations around the country, celebrated the 155th Signal Regimental Corps birthday June 22-25 here. Signal week is a time when Soldiers in the Signal Corps reflec...
 

 

Sparks fly when fireworks are lit — know safety rules

During tomorrow’s July 4th celebration, sparks will fly as people light fireworks. It’s wildfire season, and misuse of fireworks can start a fire which could have devastating effects on the community. When using approved fireworks, be cognizant of the surroundings. The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2011, fires started by fireworks caused an...
 
 
U.S. Army photo

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

More aerial intelligence systems used during Vietnam War During the Vietnam War, the Army possessed three distinct aerial intelligence capabilities. The U-6 Beaver fixed-wing airborne radio-direction finding (ARDF) platform was...
 
 
305thCeremony_6.26

305th Military Intelligence Battalion Change of Command Ceremony

Incoming Commander, Lt. Col. Jorge A. Arredondo, takes command of the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion during the passing of the colors at the change of command ceremony Friday.   Fort Huachuca’s 305th Military Inte...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>