A proud African American cavalry unit with a rich history loses its last member.
Posted in , Feb 23, 2016
This past week, we lost the last living Buffalo Soldier.
African Americans have a rich history of military service in the US. They have served proudly and bravely in every American war. But there’s one group that has now melted into our history books, the Buffalo Soldiers.
This group began officially in 1866, through an Act of Congress. There were six American army units, the 9th and 10th cavalries and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st infantry regiments.
These units protected settlers as they headed west. The 9th and 10th cavalry units came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers. There are three possible reasons for the name. One, they wore the thick buffalo hide coats during the winter to protect them from the harsh weather. It’s also said they fought so fiercely they were compared the way buffalos fought. The final possibility was that their curly black hair resembled the coats of the buffalos.
They continued their brave military service through the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, World War I and into World War II.
During WWII, the cavalry unit was disbanded, and they were renamed and reassigned to the 92nd Infantry Division and came to be known officially as the Buffalo Division. But the common name remained—they were always our Buffalo Soldiers.
On Sunday, February 14, Tomie L. Gaines of South Carolina, the last Buffalo Soldier living, passed away. He was 93. With his passing, the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers has moved from the living to history. I just couldn’t let this happen without reminding all of us the beautiful heritage these proud men left in our military.