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|Posted by Reunionblackfamily. on May 1, 2012 at 8:50 AM|
Mark Matthews (August 7, 1894 – September 6, 2005) was an American veteran of the Second World War and a Buffalo Soldier. Born in Alabama and growing up in Ohio, Matthews joined the 10th Cavalry Regiment when he was only 15 years old, after having been recruited at a Lexington, Kentucky racetrack and having documents forged so that he appeared to meet the minimum age of 17. While stationed in Arizona, he joined General John J. Pershing's Mexico expedition in 1916 to hunt down Mexican bandit Pancho Villa. When the United States turned its attention to World War I, Europe had no use for American cavalry, therefore Matthews and the 10th regiment remained in the United States for the duration of the conflict.
He was later transferred to fort Myer in Virginia, where he took care of President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor's horses and was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers' escort for King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth when they came to visit the White House. He was also a member of the Buffalo Soldiers' drum and bugle corps, and performed at funerals in Arlington National Cemetery, where he himself would later be buried. Since the Army would not allow colored soldiers to be seen at white funerals at this time, he was forced to hide in the woods while playing "Taps". A decade later, he fought in World War II and saw combat action at the Battle of Saipan in the South Pacific. During the conflict, he rose to the rank of First Sergeant. He had originally been sent to train with the Tuskegee Airmen, but was deemed to be too old at the time. Matthews retired in 1947 -- four years before the Buffalo Soldiers finally were phased out as a result of President Truman's 1948 Executive Order integrating America's armed forces.
Leaving the United States Army a few years before it was integrated, Matthews then took a job as a security guard in Maryland, rising to the rank of chief of the guards and then retiring in 1970. After the war, he told stories of military experiences and grew to represent a symbol of the Buffalo Soldiers. Matthews has received many honors over the years. He met with Bill Clinton and Colin Powell in his later years, and dedicated a barracks in Virginia in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers. Having experienced excellent health for most of his life, Matthews died of pneumonia at the age of 111 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was recognized as the oldest living Buffalo Soldier as well as the oldest man, and the second-oldest person, in the District of Columbia.
THE REUNION OF BLACK FAMILY WORLD WIDE
Our goal is to make every month Black History Month. Our goal is to include black history into American history. And to include African history into world history.
African history is a search for answers to profound questions. Universal questions such as:
Who are we? Where have we been? And how did we get here?