By Paula M. Fitzgerald/ParaglideMarch 19, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - At 15, most kids are just beginning to think about life outside of high school. That wasn't the case for retired 1st Sgt. Edward L. Posey. At that age, his mother was dead and his father's health was failing. Posey had to become the man of the house, so he decided to join the U.S. Army in 1947.
He said the Army was the only place where he could provide for his siblings and finish his education.
Posey's military career may have started early, but he was still able to make history. Last year, the first sergeant finished a book documenting the achievements of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company. The book is called "The U.S. Army's First, Last, and Only All-Black Rangers: The 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) in the Korean War, 1950-1951."
After 15-year-old Posey finished basic training, he reported for duty with 3rd Battalion, 505th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Then in 1950, he volunteered to join 2nd Ranger Infantry Company, which was made up of black paratroopers from Posey's first unit and the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion.
The new unit, which worked alongside three, all-white Ranger companies, got its first taste of combat during the Korean War.
"We were an all-black unit, but we weren't treated any different by the other Rangers," said Posey. "We had a good combat record that spoke for itself."
The 2nd Rangers participated in some of the bloodiest fighting during the Korean War.
"We jumped into combat at Munsan-Ni. We fought at Major-ri. We fought at the battle for Hill 581," Posey said.
For three years, Posey fought in Korea, where he earned seven Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with "V" device. The 2nd Rangers were officially inactivated Aug. 1, 1951.
His book recounts the 2nd Rangers' battles with astounding detail, considering Posey is now 77.
"It took 10 or 15 years for this thing to come about," Posey said. "The first guy who was supposed to write it died and his notes were lost. Then I decided to finish it."
Posey's wife since 1964, Mary, felt compelled to help her husband get the story of the 2nd Rangers out.
"Everyone knows about the Triple Nickels (555th Parachute Infantry Bn.) and the Tuskegee Airmen," Mary said. "But not many people know about the contributions made by the 2nd Ranger Company."
Mary said she and Posey spent many hours looking through archives and other historical data about the battles in which the 2nd Rangers participated.
"Even though the other Rangers may have treated them pretty well," Mary said, "there were many ways that the 2nd Rangers were discriminated against. They didn't get the same medals as the white Rangers or the same recognition."
With Posey's book, Mary said all that will hopefully change. Posey recently had to hire a lawyer because some movie producers would like to turn the book into a major motion picture.
Posey retired from the Army in 1969 and was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2002. His book is available at Barnes & Noble, www.amazon.com and the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.