Connect with us


At 98, A Black WWII Vet Will Finally Be Promoted To An Officer

 Image Name



black WWII vet John E. James Jr. sitting at his house in a suit

A story of injustice will finally end with victory for a black World War II veteran and his daughter in Philadelphia.

In 1942, John E. James Jr. graduated from the Army’s Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga, but he was never allowed to serve as a commissioned officer. If he had gotten his promotion, he would have outranked some white officers. In an era where the army was segregated, blacks officers were not supposed to supervise whites.

Instead of receiving his commission to become a second lieutenant in the Army and join the military’s black elite (fewer than one percent of black soldiers in the Army were officers in 1942), James was pulled aside by a white officer and told he would be shipped overseas. He was given positions like being a typist for three years until he returned home in 1945.

black WWII vet, black veterans, black vets, black excellence, black officers, blacks in the military

Mr. James (far right, bottom row) expected to receive his commission upon graduating from officer candidate school. Instead, he was shipped overseas as a corporal and became a typist. (The New York Times)

The focus for James after he got back home was his family and his 30 years service at the post office. He never discussed his service and the injustice he experienced with anybody, not even his wife and kids. That is why it was a surprise to his daughter, Marion Lane, when she discovered an old picture of her father when he was in the Army. He finally told her why he never talked about his service in WWII.

RELATED: The Incredible Story Behind The Oldest Known Portraits Of A Black Couple In America 

Although she discovered the photo in 2001, it was not until 2015 that Lane learned that her father could request a correction to his military record from the Army Review Board Agency.  She, with the help of Senator Bob Casey, Jr (D) and his staff, embarked on a mission to correct this injustice.

The mission wasn’t easy. It took three years, two appeals, and more than a dozen emails and letters, but John E. James Jr. will finally receive his commission and become second lieutenant in the Army two weeks after he celebrated his 98th birthday.

Read the full story, published by The New York Times, here.