African-American history

320th spotlight: Allen Jay Coles, Jr.

Many thanks to Allen Coles 3rd of Columbia, South Carolina, for his email telling me about his late father, who was a member of the battalion chronicled in my book, FORGOTTEN. Sgt. Allen Jay Coles, Jr., waited decades to tell his children that he had landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. A native of Brooklyn, he was one of the first to be drafted into service. He joked that it was the only lottery he ever "won." He was good friends with Wilson Monk, another 320th vet I was lucky to meet and who became like a second father to me. Allen sent me a photo of his parents the Monks at Café Zanzibar in New York, all of them looking young and gorgeous. Both men married their sweethearts while on furlough in December 1944, before they were shipped to the Pacific. Theirs was the only African-American unit during World War II to serve in both Europe and Asia. You can read more about Allen Coles here and Wilson Monk here.

Sgt. Allen Jay Coles, Jr., landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. 

Sgt. Allen Jay Coles, Jr., landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. 

Remembering Theolus "B" Wells

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Theolus "B" Wells, one of the men featured in FORGOTTEN, passed away July 16. He was 96. Mr. Wells, 96, of Orangeburg, South Carolina, shared a foxhole on Utah Beach on D-Day. "I didn't have enough sense to be scared," he said, explaining that he was just a kid. During his time in Britain training for the invasion, he was often mistaken for the boxing champ Joe Louis. He didn't always correct the mistake, he said with a smile, especially if the person asking him happened to be a lady. You can read more about him here.

Rowan University plays host to Forgotten

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Many thanks to Dr. John T. Mills and Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, for inviting Linda Hervieux and Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes to kick off their Black History Month series. Pictured with Linda is from right to left, Mills, Prof. Lola Ames, and G, a student who sprung for the book, something few starving students do anywhere.

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 

WWII hero Carl Clark, 100, to be buried at Arlington

Good news! WWII Navy hero Carl Clark, 100, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Clark helped saved his ship and many shipmates after a Japanese kamikaze attack but was denied proper recognition. Like Waverly Woodson, the Army Medal of Honor nominee I have written about extensively on this page, Mr. Clark was a victim of the US military's policy of denying top honors to African Americans. He finally got a Commendation Medal-- and a thank you -- in 2012. I'll always be thankful to Ricki Stevenson, Robin Bates and Constance Bryan for bringing us together last March for a talk at UC Berkeley. Dapper in his Navy uniform -- it still fit him perfectly -- he was still going strong and was a compelling speaker. He also wrote a memoir. Click here to read more about Mr. Clark.

 

 

Launch party in Wales!

Photo call with VIPs and friends of Forgotten at the Pontypool Museum. From left, Cheryl Morgan, Robert Prior, David Prior, Ken Clark, Peter Garwood, Linda Hervieux, Torfaen Mayor Veronica Crick, Dot Jones.

The 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion spent a brief, but blissful, time in the villages ringing Pontypool in southern Wales. Here, the men were welcomed as friends. Jessie and Godfrey Prior family took in homesick GI WIlson Monk, who became a surrogate son. Members of the Prior family helped in the research for Forgotten and several attended Linda's talk at the Pontypool Museum on Dec. 10, 2016. It was a great day! 

Forgotten at the National African American Museum of History & Culture

Journalist and author Wil Haygood moderates a discussion on Nov. 9 with Linda at the National African American Museum of History & Culture in Washington, DC.

In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the National African American Museum of History & Culture is a stunning addition to the  National Mall in Washington, DC. Thanks to an invitation from director Lonnie Bunch, Linda was thrilled to speak there on Nov. 9. Even better, the journalist and author Wil Haygood ("The Butler," "Showdown") moderated a program delving into the issues in FORGOTTEN: Jim Crow America, segregation, the systematic mistreatment of African Americans before and after WW2. Many thanks to Will and everyone who turned out the day after a very long and grueling election night!