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Park University leads effort to give Medals of Honor to minority WWI heroes 

By Leslie Aguilar
via the KCTV-5 television station (MO) web site D

PARKVILLE, MO (KCTV) -- Two Park University students and a professor are taking on a mission to right the wrongs of the past. They want to make sure African American soldiers from the Great War get the honor they deserve.

More than 375,000 African Americans put on a uniform and went to fight during the first World War.

Screen shot KCTV 5“I like to refer to them as the forgotten soldiers of a forgotten war,” Josh Weston, Park University history undergraduate sophomore, said.

Not one of those soldiers received the highest honor the United States can bestow for valor when they came home.

“They weren’t even mentioned on the national scale as being active in this war,” Ashlyn Weber, Park University history undergraduate senior, said.

Weber, Weston and their professor, Dr. Tim Westcott, are doing a systematic review of military records. They’re looking for soldiers who were denied a medal of honor based on race or religion.

“There are records and documents from 1925 and previous from the United States Army Command Staff that we would not repeat those words today because they are very racist about African Americans in particular serving in the United States Army,” Westcott said.

Tim Westcott is a veteran himself.

So far, he and his students have identified 70 African American soldiers who were awarded a Distinguished Service Cross from the U.S. but no Medal of Honor.

Some of them were even awarded France’s equivalent of the Medal of Honor, the Croix de Gerre Palm.

It’s Josh Weston’s job to look through military records from the U.S., France and Germany to get a clear storyline of what each soldier did.

“They were severely wounded and still went out and were fighting for both the French and the Americans for the allied side and were given everything they had even though they weren’t, let’s just say, treated the greatest,” Weston said.

Weston is a veteran too.

He just wants credit given where it’s due.

“They fought beyond heroically and we need to honor that,” he said.

Read the entire article on the KCTV-5 web site.

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