When the United States entered WWII, Logisticians for the first time could bring refrigerated food, water, drugs, and blood to the battlefield thanks to Frederick McKinley Jones' innovative portable refrigerator unit. Developed in 1940, the device revolutionized transportation and sustainment. Soldiers were able to drop the refrigerated units by parachute into forward combat areas.
Jones' innovation is even more impressive given the hardships he faced as a child. He was born after the Civil War in Cincinnati Ohio. Orphaned at the age of nine, he received only four years of formal education. By age 12, he was on his own and held his first job sweeping an auto repair garage. Jones served in WWI rising to the rank of Sergeant. He taught himself engineering -- eventually earning the highest grade Engineering license.
Often referred to as the King of Cool, he co-founded Thermo King. During his life he was awarded 61 patents, becoming one of the best known and respected engineers in the country. He also received the National Medal of Technology, the first African American to receive this prestigious award.
In proclaiming February as National African American History Month President Barack Obama said "As we mark the 40th year of National African American History Month, let us reflect on the sacrifices and contributions made by generations of African Americans, and let us resolve to continue our march toward a day when every person knows the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This month, Army Logistics is honoring the contributions of several African-Americans who helped improve logistics for Soldiers on the battlefield.