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Derricks' Bridgehead (Hardback)

597th Field Artillery Battalion, 92nd Division, and the Leadership Legacy of Col. Wendell T. Derricks

Military > By Century > 20th Century WWII

By Lt Col Major Clark
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 304
Illustrations: B/W
ISBN: 9781636242712
Published: 15th July 2023

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The 597th Field Artillery Battalion, 92nd Division, was the first, last, and only all-black officered direct support field artillery battalion committed to combat in the history of the U.S. Army. It was the first all-black unit in a combat division and, together with the 600th Field Artillery Battalion, constituted the only all-black units in any combat division. Alongside impressive achievements on the battlefield in Italy in 1944–45, the unit provided more key command and staff positions exclusively for black field artillery officers than any other U.S. Army unit in combat, giving combat training and experience to more senior black field artillery officers than any of the other 16 black field artillery battalions during World War II.

 

Colonel Wendell Derricks worked to shelter his troops from the worst of the racism exhibited during the war and, due to his ability to envision an integrated post-war army, he provided unique leadership opportunities for his senior officers. The alumni of the 597th Field Artillery Battalion have an impressive record of success; many of them were inducted into the Field Artillery Hall of Fame, some served at the Pentagon, including Lieutenant Colonel Clark, and others forged successful career in the civilian world.

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About Lt Col Major Clark

Lt. Col. Major Clark was the troop historian for the 597th Field Artillery Battalion. He was a veteran of World War II and Korea. His 20 year plus Army career culminated at the Pentagon. During his career, Clark earned 12 medals and citations. As a civilian, Clark continued his efforts to recognize and reward black military achievements. One of Clark’s greatest achievements was working behind the scenes to bring about the awarding of Medals of Honor to seven African American World War II veterans. Clark was invited to the White House ceremony by President Bill Clinton for his efforts.
 

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