Ft. Hood, TX - As Black History Month draws to a close, the 1st Cavalry Division continues to honor African Americans who served within the Division and their unique achievements that contributed to our storied history.
“National African American History Month serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that African American history is American history,” said Col. Anthony L. Wilson, commander, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade. “Acknowledging the contributions of African Americans is essential to the growth and understanding of America as we know it today — our faults, our struggles, our progress, and our aspirations. That is why it is essential that we honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, reckon with centuries of injustice, and confront those injustices that still fester today.”
Throughout its 100-year history, many African American leaders have held prestigious positions within the 1st Cavalry Division. Leaders in the First Team are often reminded of the contributions of those individuals.
“As we ‘Live the Legend’ this year we must also remember the Legends who served our great Nation,” added Wilson. “Which includes some historical firsts like the first known African American Command Sergeant Major of the 1st Cavalry Division - the late A.C. Cotton. The first African American four-star, General Roscoe Robinson who served as a commander in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Air Calvary Division in 1967. Also, the first African American General Officer in the regular Army and in the United States Armed Forces was Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. Davis served in both the 9th Calvary Regiment and in the 2nd Squadron, 10th Calvary Regiment which became known as ‘Buffalo Soldiers’.”
Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) A.C. Cotton, who served as the division’s first African American command sergeant major from 1985 to 1988, is among a long list of notable African American leaders who served with the 1st Cavalry Division. In remarks on his military service, Cotton once stated, “I hope the American people realize what a great Army we have; great Soldiers who get up every day to defend our freedom.” Cotton recently passed away on Sept. 7, 2021 and was recognized this past January with the dedication of the first Veterans of Foreign Wars post in his name located on Fort Hood.
Additionally, this month the division recognizes another African American leader, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Julius Wesley Becton, Jr., who commanded the division from 1975 to 1976. According to his biography, Becton served combat tours in Korea and Vietnam. He also stationed in Germany, the Philippines, France, and Japan. Becton would devote nearly 40 years to the Army until his retirement in 1983.
Becton once stated, “My feeling is that every citizen should make a personal investment in this country in order to appreciate what it offers, and in so doing learn about other citizens, a process which is otherwise routinely missed.”
During Black History month, the First Team is dedicated understanding its history, while also learning about the unique cultures and backgrounds of its Troopers. The First team is building cohesive teams and forging adaptive leaders by embracing and celebrating diversity and inclusivity; which ultimately makes our Army stronger.