Before there was a group of black radicals in the ‘60s and long before there was a Hollywood blockbuster about a fictional black superhero from a fictional Wakanda, there was the real Black Panthers — men who drove tanks and killed Nazis in World War II. A nice tribute to them appeared at the Daily Mail along with new photos that have surfaced.
Officially, these black soldiers were known as the 761st tank battalion. They were nicknamed the Black Panthers because of an insignia of a panther’s head and the slogan, “Come Out Fighting.”
According to the report, these men deployed onto Omaha beach on October, 10, 1944. They served in northern France, the Rhineland, and mainland Germany. The Black Panthers were instrumental, it’s noted, in the Battle of the Bulge.
The battalion had a famous American among its ranks — baseball icon Jackie Robinson. In all, there were 30 black officers, six white officers, and 676 enlisted black soldiers assigned to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. Patton announced the first blacks to fight combat missions for the US Army:
“I would never have asked for you if you weren't good. I have nothing but the best in my Army. I don't care what color you are as long as you go up there and kill those Kraut sons-of-bitches.
“Everyone has their eyes on you and is expecting great things from you. Most of all your race is looking forward to your success. Don't let them down and damn you, don't let me down.
“They say it is patriotic to die for your country. Well, let's see how many patriots we can make out of those German sons-of-bitches.
“There is one thing you men will be able to say when you go home. You may all thank God that thirty years from now when you are sitting with your grandson on your knee and he asks, ‘Grandfather, what did you do in World War Two?’ You won't have to say, ‘I shoveled shit in Mississippi.’”
It was in 1948 that an executive order signed by President Harry Truman ended segregation in the military and integrated the 761st thereafter. Thirty years after WWII, the battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by President Jimmy Carter. These brave men amassed 30 purple hearts and one of its members, Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers, was posthumously awarded for his bravery with the Medal of Honor in 1997.
Imagine if Hollywood produced a blockbuster movie about real black heroes like this — real Black Panthers fighting a real enemy and defeating them. Instead, we get Marvel’s social justice lecture. And what a pity it is that many in black culture idolize the radical Black Panthers of the '60s instead of these brave men. The real inspiration is with the 761st.
Head to Daily Mail to see the great photo collection.