(Extensions of Remarks - April 26, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E570]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. CHARLES B. RANGEL

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, April 26, 2013

  Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Speaker today I rise to honor the 369th Infantry 
Regiment on their 100th anniversary. Constituted in June of 1913, this 
regiment was the first African American Regiment to serve with the 
American Expeditionary Force during World War I.
  The U.S. Army's 369th Infantry Regiment, popularly known as the 
``Harlem Hellfighters,'' was the best known African American unit of 
World War I. Federalized in 1917, it prepared for service in Europe and 
arrived in Brest in December. The next month, the regiment became part 
of the 93rd Division and continued its training, now under French 
instructors. In March, the regiment finally received its Federal 
designation and was reorganized and reequipped according to the French 
model. That summer, the 369th was integrated into the French 161st 
Division and began combat operations.
  While African American valor usually went unrecognized, well over one 
hundred members of the regiment received American and/or French medals, 
including the first two Americans--Corporal Henry Johnson and Private 
Needham Roberts--to be awarded the coveted French Croix de Guerre.
   Spending over six months in combat, perhaps the longest of any 
American unit in the war, the 369th suffered approximately fifteen 
hundred casualties but received only nine hundred replacements. Unit 
histories claimed they were the first unit to cross the Rhine earning 
the epithet ``Hell Fighters'' from their enemies. After considerable 
effort by Colonel Hayward, the 369th was welcomed home with a parade in 
February 1919 and reabsorbed into the National Guard. More than one 
million people witnessed the triumphant parade from Lower Manhattan, up 
Fifth Avenue to my beloved village of Harlem. The marching band led the 
troops, and as they turned off 110th Street onto Lenox Avenue the band 
began to play. Today the lineage and tradition is carried on by the 
369th Transportation Battalion, which has since become the 369th Corps 
Support Battalion. The Harlem Hellfighters continue to serve at home 
and overseas.
  This year we honor a group of men whose selflessness and valor 
propelled them to protect and serve the very country that left them a 
perpetually marginalized group of American society. A group of men who 
fought to defend this country whose dream of freedom was ironically and 
unremorsefully built on the backs of their ancestors with no avail even 
as their sons fought for that same ideal decades later. The history of 
the Harlem Hellfighters is one of dedication and profound spirituality 
that reminds us that the efforts we make today has everything to do 
with the world we create for our future.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask that you and my distinguished colleagues stand 
together to recognize such an historic day as our nation marks the 
100th year of the 369th Infantry Regiment's dedication to this county. 
A Celebration of their remarkable service to this country and of the 
spirit and unwavering strength they displayed throughout.