In 1866, two U.S. Army African American regiments were formed called the 9th and 10th cavalries. Members of these two cavalry units as well as two all-Black infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th, came to be called Buffalo Soldiers.
By 1867, the first Buffalo Soldier units were sent to the West to fight Indians and protect settlers, cattle herds, and railroad crews. They distinguished themselves, so much that they won the respect of their enemies they were fighting–the Native Americans.
In the 1950s, the Buffalo Soldier regiments were disbanded, when all military services were integrated.
But the legacy of the group was too big to let it fade quietly into the sunset. Consequently, alumni of the units created a national organization which, today has grown into more that 80 chapters in the United States and Canada.
“The chapters are made up of guys who were originally Buffalo Soldiers, and after they were discharged or retired from the military they formed the chapters all over the United States to keep in contact with one another. They also wanted more or less convey the history of the Buffalo Soldiers from 1866 to 1951, when they broke us up,” said Andrew Aaron Jr. a surviving member of the original regiment of Buffalo Soldiers (10th cavalry 1948-1951). “The history of the Buffalo Soldiers is really outstanding, and they are one of the most outstanding fighting forces that the United States has ever had.”
Aaron credits the Buffalo Soldiers’ success to their ability to withstand the extreme heat just as well as the Indians could, because they were use to it from working the fields in the South. “Most Americans couldn’t stand that heat in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and the Indians knew that. But when they brought in the African Americans, they had to go against someone who could stand that heat, could eat the same type of foods they ate, and at the same time were bigger and stronger than they were. That’s why they gave us the name the Buffalo Soldiers, when they first saw us. They said we were dark like the buffalo, had hair like the buffalo, strong like the buffalo, tough like the buffalo, so they originally called us “wild buffalo men.” The name stuck, then later out of respect they changed the name to Buffalo Soldiers.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of one of the most storied Black military regiments in American history, will host a Buffalo Soldiers Community Holiday Event Nov. 27 at Rowley Park in Gardena, and the winners of their essay and coloring contests will be presented.
The essay contest is open to young people and each entrant will receive a gift. One grand prize winner earns a $200 college savings bond. Participants must write about the history, life and contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers.
The deadline to submit an essay was Nov. 20, however interested people can contact the event organizers until Nov. 25.
The coloring contest is open to youth, and the winners receive a $100 savings bond.
All essays should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and coloring contest entries should be mailed to P.O. Box 5071 Gardena, CA 90249.
The event will include refreshments, raffles, fun, and a chance to meet and be photographed with surviving members of the squadron.
“We are going to teach them (the children) the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, so that they will recognize that they are a part of the American dream, and that they should respect the military, and law enforcement and think about the suffering of those men (soldiers) and what they did so that they (children) could have the freedoms, liberties, and the enjoyment of life that they have. Especially in California, and the Western Territory, these children don’t know anything about the Buffalo Soldiers, even though they were one of the key elements in American history,” said Aaron.