A mural of Howard L. Baugh in the Chesterfield County Airport, painted by Maggie O’Leary, is a token of honor for this member of the Tuskegee Airman, those who served bravely and boldly in World War II. Baugh passed away Aug. 23, 2008, but his legacy lives on. The decorated soldier was born in Petersburg, graduated from Virginia State College (now VSU), and later in his life resided in Chesterfield.
Baugh earned many honors during his dedicated career including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the usual theater and campaign medals. In June 2004 the French government presented him with its highest and most prestigious military award, the French Legion of Honor.
Long before that, Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed Sept. 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. This nickname was given by the Native American tribes they fought in the Indian Wars. The term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed in 1866.
During the Civil War, African-Americans served on both the Union and Confederate sides. In the Union army, over 179,000 African American men served in over 160 units, as well as more serving in the Navy and in support positions. Historynet.com states that this number includes both northern free African
Americans and runaway slaves from the South who enlisted to fight. In the Confederacy, many African-Americans were still slaves, and they served mostly in labor positions. Eventually, African-Americans were allowed to enlist on their own in the military if they wished.
These are but brief glimpses into the lives and service of heroic African-Americans. People learned more about African-Americans who served as Tuskegee Airman, soldiers, and spies, during a program at Meadowdale Library last week.
The program was part of a series of programs sponsored by Chesterfield County celebrating Black History Month.
Chesterfield County’s Black History Month celebration has been a tradition for 27 years. Charmaine Crowell-White’s Sukey: Life with Dolley Madison will be presented on Thursday at the Bon Air Library and Monday, Feb. 27 at the Meadowdale Library, 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The Chesterfield County Black History Month Committee will host the Black History Month Business Breakfast and Scholarship Recognition event on Friday. Concluding the special events, Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles by Dr. Bert Ashe is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23 at the LaPrade Library, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.