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Gen Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr
Birth: Jul. 1, 1877
Washington
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
Death: Nov. 27, 1970
Chicago
Cook County
Illinois, USA

US Army Brigadier General. He rose in rank, during the time when racial segregation was the standard, to become the first African-American brigadier general in the history of the US military. There is a dispute over his birth year, with the date he gave the US Army when he initially reported for duty as 1877 while a June 1880 census document lists his birth as May 1880. His father worked for the US Department of the Interior and his mother was a nurse. After graduating from M Street High School in Washington DC, during which time he took some classes at Howard University there, he decided to pursue a military career against his parents' wishes. He entered the military service in July 1898, as a temporary first lieutenant in the 8th US Volunteer Infantry, an all-black unit stationed at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, from October 1898 until the unit was disbanded in March 1899. During the Spanish-American War, he briefly served in Company D, 1st Separate Battalion of the Washington DC National Guard. He was mustered out of the service in March 1899 but three months later he enlisted as a private in Troop I, 9th Cavalry Regiment (one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments), of the Regular Army and was stationed at Fort Duchesne, Utah where he served first as the troop's clerk and later as squadron sergeant major through 1900. His commander Lt Charles Young, the only African-American officer in the US military at the time, tutored him on all the subjects covered on the officer candidate test and in 1901 he passed the test at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant of Cavalry in the US Army. His first assignment was in the Philippines during the Philippine–American War and the following August he was assigned to Troop F, 10th Cavalry A year later he returned to the US with Troop F and was stationed at Fort Washakie, Wyoming, where he also served for several months with Troop M. In September 1905 he was assigned to Wilberforce University in Ohio as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. In November 1909 he was reassigned for duty to Liberia, serving as a military attaché there from April 1910 until October 1911. In November 1911 he returned to the US and the following January 1912 he was assigned to Troop I, 9th Cavalry at Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming and in 1913 the 9th Cavalry was assigned to patrol the Mexican-United States border. In February 1915 he was again assigned to Wilberforce University as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. From 1917 to 1920 he served with the 9th Cavalry at Fort Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands, as supply officer, commander of 3rd Squadron, and then of 1st Squadron. He reached the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel with the National Army during World War I, but upon returning to the US in March 1920, he reverted to the rank of captain. He was then assigned to the Tuskegee University, Alabama, as the Professor of Military Science and Tactics until 1924, during which time he was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1924 he served for five years as an instructor with 2nd Battalion, 372nd Regiment, Ohio National Guard, in Cleveland, Ohio. In September 1929 he returned to Wilberforce University as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. In February 1930 he was promoted to the rank of colonel and in early 1931 he was assigned to the Tuskegee Institute and remained there for six years as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. During the summer months of 1930 to 1933 he would escorted pilgrimages of World War I Gold Star Mothers and Widows to the burial places of their loved ones who died in Europe during World War I. In August 1937 he again returned to Wilberforce University as Professor of Military Science and Tactics. In the summer of 1938 he was assigned to the 369th Regiment, New York National Guard and became commander of the regiment soon afterwards. In October 1940 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, becoming the first African-American general in the US Army. The following January he became Commanding General of 4th Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas and six months later he was assigned to Washington DC as an assistant in the Office of the Inspector General, during which time he also served on the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies. From 1941 to 1944 he conducted inspection tours of African-American soldiers in the US Army and from September to November 1942 and again from July to November 1944, he made inspection tours of African-American soldiers stationed in Europe during World War II. In November 1944 he was reassigned to work under US Army Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee as Special Assistant to the Commanding General, Communications Zone, European Theater of Operations. He served with the General Inspectorate Section, European Theater of Operation (later the Office of the Inspector General on Europe) from January through May 1945. While serving in this position, he was influential in the proposed policy of integration using replacement units. In 1945 he returned to the US and became the Assistant to the Inspector General of the US Army in Washington DC. In 1947 he was assigned as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army and was sent to Liberia as the US representative for their centennial celebration. He retired from the US Army in July 1948 with 50 years of military service. Among his military and foreign decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Grade of Commander of the Order of the Star of Africa from Liberia. After his military retirement, he served as a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission from July 1953 through June 1961. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia. He died at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital at the age of 93 (or 90, depending on his correct birth year). In 1997 the US Postal Service issued a 32 cent stamp in his honor. He was the father of US Air Force General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr. (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Sadie Overton Davis (1880 - 1966)*
 
 Children:
  Benjamin Oliver Davis (1912 - 2002)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 2, Lot 478-B, Map Grid W/32
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Oct 20, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 13121
Gen Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr
Added by: Curtis Jackson
 
Gen Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr
Added by: Curtis Jackson
 
Gen Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr
Added by: Ron Williams
 
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- Roses♥
 Added: Apr. 13, 2015
Your long service to our country is remembered by the Sons of Spanish American War Veterans.
- Spanish American War
 Added: Mar. 19, 2015

- R I P
 Added: Nov. 27, 2014
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