101st Airborne Division Soldiers Escort Little Rock Nine on 50th Anniversary
September 25, 2007
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Department of the Army, Sept. 24, 2007) - Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) escorted the Little Rock Nine to and from the stage here today during the Little Rock High School National Historic Site Visitor Center Dedication Ceremony.
The nine Soldiers were hand picked by their Battalion and Brigade Command Sergeants Major to take part in the event, which was held 50 years after President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent more than 11,500 101st Airborne Division Soldiers to Little Rock to ensure the safety of nine black students who wished to attend the then all-white Little Rock Central High School.
The new visitor center has photos and multimedia presentations that detail the events and those leading up to the 1957 school year at Central High School. Visitors to the center can learn how Governor Orval Faubus announced that Arkansas National Guard troops would be used to prevent nine black students from entering the school, and how President Eisenhower eventually had to call on the 101st Airborne Division to deploy Soldiers to truly keep the peace by escorting the black students to and from classes every day.
At the end of her remarks, Little Rock Nine member Elizabeth Eckford thanked the Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division for their efforts. The nine honor escorts taking part in the ceremony were: Pvt. Antonio Coley, Spc. Tyeshia Edwards, Spc. James Johnson, Pvt. Michael Roach, Sgt. Kimberly Smith, Spc. Jeffrey Stevenson, Sgt. Michael Tracy, Pfc. Colby Wray and Sgt. Brandi Wyatt. Sgt. 1st Class Carolyn Williams was in charge of the detail.