320th Barrage Balloon Battatlon

Remembering Oscar Davis Coaston

After the publication of FORGOTTEN: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, Earl Coaston wrote to this website about his father, who was not in the book. For decades after landing in the killing field that was Omaha Beach, Coaston rarely spoke of the war. “Certainly the terror and horror of the war played a part," his son says, "but for him to give that part of himself to a country that did not believe that he deserved the respect due any human being, let alone a war veteran with two Bronze Stars, ate at him for the rest of his life.” You can read his full story here. See all the men of FORGOTTEN (so far) here. If you know a man who should be in this gallery, please contact Linda Hervieux here

Oscar Davis Coaston 

Oscar Davis Coaston 

Remembering the black GIs in Wales

Linda Hervieux posing for photos with Welsh historian Neil Sinclair at Trinity Methodist Church, Abersychan, Wales. 

The months the men of FORGOTTEN spent training in the villages of Wales before D-Day left a lasting impression. For the black GIs of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, it was the first time in their lives they were welcomed as men, worthy of respect, just like the white Americans soldiers. To the Welsh, it was a brush with foreigners that they would never forget. For most of them, it was the first time they had men people of color. The black GIs -- the "tan Yanks" as they were affectionately called -- were the talk of the towns ringing Pontypool, Wales. 

At an event on Sept. 24 to commemorate the black soldiers, historians, descendants of the soldiers, local residents and descendants of the families who welcomed the African Americans gathered at Trinity Methodist Church in Abersychan. Some of the men of FORGOTTEN like Wilson Monk were billeted there in early 1944. I was honored to be a part of the ceremony organized by the BBC to remember the black soldiers. Footage will be used in the upcoming series Black in Britain, set to air in November. The plaque affixed to the church wall behind me and historian Neil Sinclair honors the black soldiers. I'm looking forward to returning to the area on December 10 for a launch at the Pontypool Museum. See my events.