761st Honored by American Veterans Center

 The 761st Tank Battalion was the recipient of the signature Audie Murphy Award presented at The Honors ceremony, the closing event of the American Veterans Center’s 18th Annual Conference, that took place from November 5-7, 2015, in Washington, DC. The award was among those presented at an exclusive black-tie dinner event on Saturday, November 7th, featuring musical performances, special guests and heroes from the last 75 years of military history. 

The ceremony was preceded by several full days of planned activity from early morning until late in the evening, including a reception Friday night at the British Embassy.

Describing the award, the American Veterans Center said, "The 761st made history in becoming the first African American tankers to see combat. Through their selfless service on the front lines, while proving to their countrymen that they were true and worthy soldiers, the 761st proved to be men of valor on and off the battlefield."  761st Tank Battalion veteran Thomas Mangrum accepted the award, accompanied by 758th Tank Battalion veteran John Weston and 761st Tank Battalion and Allied Veterans Association Secretary Ivan Harrison, Jr.  An edited video of the event (edited to 1 hour and 24 minutes) is available on the American Veterans Center website. John Weston and Thomas Mangrum can be seen accepting the award for the 761st about 14 minutes into the broadcast. Click here for the video.

Two months after the November ceremony, 758th Tank Battalion veteran John Weston passed away on December 29, 2015.  A video in his honor was posted by the American Veterans Center.

November 2015, AVC had the honor of conducting this interview with Weston at the annual Veterans Day Conference. Two months later, on December 29, 2015, John S. Weston passed away. This film was made in his honor - See more at: http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/2016/01/john-weston/#sthash.jC8jO7ss.dpuf
November 2015, AVC had the honor of conducting this interview with Weston at the annual Veterans Day Conference. Two months later, on December 29, 2015, John S. Weston passed away. This film was made in his honor - See more at: http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/2016/01/john-weston/#sthash.jC8jO7ss.dpuf



Taffy Bates Funeral

TaffyFuneral services for Taffy Bates, late widow of Col. Paul Bates, will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on August 18, 2015, starting at 9:00 a.m. She will be interred with her husband, Paul Bates, in section 60, grave 6101 on York Drive by Halsey Drive (the date could change but for now August 18th is on Arlington’s schedule.)

She passed away peacefully in her Florida home Sunday, October 19, 2014, at the age of 96. Born Helen Rosen in Queens, New York, “Taffy,” a name she fashioned for herself, volunteered for duty as an Army nurse during World War II. She railed against the inequities she found like curfews and lesser pay for nurses. She served in Louisiana as well as Texas and cared for the wounded near the front in the European Theater from the fall of 1944 until the war’s end. She left the Army after the war.
Taffy Rosen met then-Major Paul L. Bates at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, early during his years with the 761st Tank Battalion and she married him after the war. They had one son, Paul Jr. After Colonel Paul Bates’ retirement they looked at moving to Spain, but settled outside Tampa, Florida, in 1967, in a home designed by talented Paul Jr. Taffy became active in medicine and women’s medical rights. The Bates' love affair continued after Paul Sr.’s death in 1995. She spent her last 20 years keeping Paul Bates' memory alive. Her one wish: to join him again. She will be buried with her husband at Arlington Cemetery.

James B. Jones Legion of Honor

JonesPrivate First Class James B. Jones of Laurel, MS, a member of the 761st Tank Battalion's D Company, and five fellow World War II Mississippi Veterans, received France's highest honor, the Legion of Honor, at Camp Shelby on December 9, 2014.

Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest honor in France. It recognizes eminent services to the French Republic. Foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds may receive a distinction from the Legion of Honor. American veterans who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor.

Recipients of the honor were designated by the President of the Republic, François Hollande. "It is my great honor to recognize American veterans of World War II who courageously served their country to help liberate my country, France," said Denis Barbet, the Consul General of France in Atlanta. "I look forward to personally thanking these veterans from Mississippi who will forever be our heroes."

Also honored were veterans Adelchi A. Pilutti from Ocean Springs, MS (Technician 4th Grade, 508th Parachute Infantry),  William M. Amos from Hazelhurst, MS (Gunner's Mate 3rd class, USS LCT Flotilla Seventeen, LCT 776), John L. Balser from McComb, MS (Technician 5th Grade, 3444th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company) and James H. McBrayer from Brandon, MS (Private First Class, Military Police Platoon, 80th Infantry, 10th Armored Division.)

Hall Duncan Legion of Honor

Dr. Hall Duncan (Ph.D. in education) of Edmond, Oklahoma, a World War II veteran with numerous medals from his service in the European Theater, received  France's highest distinction, the Legion of Honor, in a ceremony at the memorial site for his fellow Oklahoman Staff Sgt. Ruben Rivers (a 716st Tank Battalion Medal of Honor recipient) in Guebling, France.  Dr. Duncan served in I Company, 3rd Battalion, 101st Infantry, 26th Division (Yankee Division), Third Army and was honorably discharged as a Private First Class.  His previous combat awards included the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  Pvt. Duncan and Staff Sgt. Rivers fought in the same battle near Guebling.


Legislation to name post office building for Burgess

July 31, 2103, update:

A measure has moved forward in the U.S. Senate to name a Champaign post office after a black World War II veteran who was also the county's first African-American elected official.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and government Affairs passed the measure honoring James R. Burgess Jr. on Wednesday.

News-Gazette.com reports:

Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, Wednesday introduced legislation to designate the U.S. Post Office at 302 E. Green St. in Champaign as the "James R. Burgess Jr. Post Office Building."

Burgess was the first African-American elected to countywide office in Champaign County (in 1972, as state's attorney), and later served as a U.S. attorney in East St. Louis. Burgess also was commander of an African-American armored unit in World War II in the European theater.

His son Steve, a resident of Urbana, originally had sought to have the federal courthouse in Urbana named for his late father....  

... read more


Montford Point Marines Receiving the Congressional Gold Medal

On June 27, 2012, the Montford Point Marines were honored by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal. This highest civilian award in the United States was first presented during the Revolutionary War to George Washington.




Click here for the latest edition of the 761st Newsletter (June 10, 2011.)

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with material or ideas for the Newsletter.

Additional editions are listed below.

June 10, 2011
April 15, 2010
March 15, 2008
September 1, 2006
December 31, 2005
June 5, 2005

Adobe Reader version 5.0 or higher is required to open and view an issue (click here for the Adobe site where the free Reader can be downloaded and installed.) These multi-page online Newsletters are in fairly large files that may take some time to download, unless you have broadband internet access.  The Newsletter, prepared and published by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , “is intended to be a vehicle for the members and associates to express opinions, make suggestions, share experiences and especially to keep in touch.”





Letter Requesting Help
Identifying Descendants of 761st Veterans
for Bates Memorial Scholarship Fund
(and also as potential Association members)

May 1, 2010

Dear Colleague,

The Paul L. Bates Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 1999 in memory of Colonel Paul Bates at Western Maryland College (now known as McDaniel College).The scholarship was established as a tribute to the men who served with Colonel Bates from August 1944 through April 1945 and provides awards for lineal descendants of members of the 761st Tank Battalion.

Recently Colonel Bates’ widow, Mrs. Helen “Taffy” Bates has expressed concern that no descendants of the Battalion have ever taken advantage of the scholarship fund. A scholarship must be awarded every year even when there are no descendants of the 761st applying. This is lost money and opportunity to the 761st descendants whose predecessors fought so bravely for.

There were well over 600 original battalion members. I know that there are many grandchildren and great-grandchildren descended from them. In my family alone there are 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren descended from my father. Part of the problem may be that very few people know about the scholarship; also, there has never been a comprehensive list to identify battalion members, much less lineal descendants.

To help with this, I have enclosed a form that can be used to start building a data base with the names and addresses of all former 761st members and their descendants. Please fill it out with whatever information you have. If you know of anyone that may not have received the form, copy it and pass it on. If you know of any former battalion member that has passed, fill in what you know or forward the form to a family member.

This was very important to Colonel Bates and Mrs. Bates feels it is very important to his legacy – please help!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Please Click here for the form enclosed with the letter.)






Richard Carter Photos


2nd RunionSome interesting new material is available in the Gallery. First, Irmgard M. Carter, daughter of Tech-4 Richard A. Carter (the Association's President for several years in the 1950-60's) has kindly provided some beautiful photographs and memorabilia from and about her father, including the picture shown to the right of the Second Annual Reunion of the 761st Tank Battalion and Allied Veterans Association that was held in Chicago in August of 1950. Click here to see the Tech-4 Richard A. Carter Family Album in the 761st Gallery. Also, Col. Aaron M. Dotson has provided an abundance of photos and documents, also including reunion material - even a chronology listing all the 761st Association's Reunions and Presidents from 1949 to 2004. Click here to see Col. Dotson's album.







1st Sgt. Charles M. King


1st Sgt. Charles M. King was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 14, 2006. 1SG King was closely asscoiated with the 761st Tank Battalion, having provided artwork commemorating the Battalion that was part of a Black History Month display at the Pentagon in 1998, and is now being exhibited at military museums at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, and at Fort Knox, Kentucky. 1SG King attended Association reunions and particpated in the Honor Guard. His obituary in the Cleveland Plain Dealer includes a link to a Guest Book where condolences may be posted, and where Association Historian Wayne Robinson said, "Charles was the latter-day spiritual embodiment of the 761st Association tankers we came to know and love." Several news articles have been written about 1SG King, including a touching remembrance in The New York Times on January 1, 2007 (that was written by is fiance, Dana Canedy, an editor there), and articles in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Mobile, Alabama Press-Register, both on October 18, 2006. An artcile in The News-Enterprise, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, reported that a movie will be made about 1st Sgt. King, with Denzel Washington in the leading role.






French Legion of Honor Medal to Stevens and NavarreNavarre at cemenony awarding him the French Legion of Honor

Two veterans of the 761st Tank Battalion have received the French Legion of Honor medal. On April 10, 2007, in a ceremony at the Washington State Capitol, Christopher P. Navarre was awarded the medal signifying appointment to the National Order of the Legion of Honor of France. Navarre ceremony (Click here for a separate news story describing the similar May 8, 2006, award to Johnnie Stevens.) In his comments at the ceremony, Mr. Navarre said, "I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on January 15, 1920, as a second class citizen," and he recounted how he and his fellows failed to receive recognition at the time of their accomplishments. There were actually two presentations. Navarre ceremonyMr. Frederic Desagneaux (Consul General of France in San Francisco) presented him with the French Legion of Honor medal. In addition, Matt Hinkle (Ft Lewis) and Colonel Halusz presented him with the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute.

Navarre ceremonyOne of the regular army's youngest First Sergeant’s in 1943, Chrisotpher Navarre was required to accept a reduction in rank to private to transfer from an unarmed ambulance company of the 429th medical ambulance battalion to join the 761st Tank Battalion in armed combat (as there was no vacancy for a First Sergeant in a black combat unit.) He remained on the front line as a tank gunner until the end of the war. In 1997, then retired Chief Warrant Officer Chistopher Navarre, Sr, received the Silver Star for actions in Task Force Rhine (in March of 1945). Navarre ceremonyQuoting the 761st Newsletter of December, 2005,First Sergeant Navarre "Before retiring from the United States Army in 1963, Chief Warrant Officer Christopher P. Navarre served in a number of different units, including the 116th Combat Engineers in Korea and the 1st Cavalry Division in Japan, but he never really left the 761st Tank Battalion behind. Over the years he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the veterans of the 761st (and for that matter, all veterans) are remembered and that their sacrifices are acknowledged. He has been responsible for a special display at the Fort Lewis Military Museum in Washington." Mr. Navarre entered the Army in 1940 at the age of 23, prior to Pearl Harbor, Navarre Resolutionunder segregated conditions and was first assigned to the 25th infantry regiment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, a unit that was composed of white officers, Native American Indian scouts and all black enlisted men.

Click here for a special report on the Johnnie Stevens medal award by Joe Wilson, Jr.

Stevens receives French Legion of HonorMonday, May 8, 2006, on the 61st anniversary of V-E Day, a French Legion of Honor medal was presented by Francois Delattre, the Consul General of France, during a ceremony at the French Consulate in New York City to the 761st Tank Battalion's Staff Sgt. Johnnie Stevens, Jr., of Carteret, New Jersey, and several additional recipients. The National Order of the Legion of Honor, was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte on May 19, 1802, as the most senior Order in France (starting with the reign of Louis Philippe, the Legion of Honor became the sole French national order, although a second national order, the National Order of Merit, was instituted in 1963 as a compliment.) A National Museum of the Legion of Honor and the Orders of Chivalry was founded in the Palace of the Grand Chancellery in 1925. Appointment to the Legion is considered a great honour recognizing eminent service to the Republic of France. The medal is an enameled star of five rays surmounted on a wreath of leaves, a gold medallion in the center having a set of crossed tricolore, surrounded by the Legion's motto Honneur et patrie (Honour and Fatherland) and its foundation date in a blue enamel ring.

S. Sgt. Johnnie StevensAs shown by his certificate (click the certificate image, to the left, to see an enlarged version in a new window) the award designates Johnnie Stevens a Chevalier (or Knight) of the Legion of Honor. The French government established criteria for a selection process allowing the French Legion of Honor Medal to be be presented to U.S. Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard veterans participating in one of the four major campaigns in the liberation of France (Normandy, Southern France, Northern France and the Ardennes) during World War II. Ten French consulates in the U.S. are involved in distribution of the awards, and the French government asked the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs for assistance in identifying qualified US veterans for consideration in awarding the Legion of Honor Medal.

French Legion of Honor Medal SSGT Stevens was one of the first recipients under this recent award designation. Eligible veterans must have written documentation (normally a copy of their military separation order, DD - 214, and other official orders) verifying their military history during combat, and any previous military awards such as the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, etc. indicating meritorious actions during combat operations. Copies of these documents should be forwarded with the request for consideration for the French Legion of Honor to the Defense Attache, Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007. The French medals are approved by the Legion of Honor Committee in Paris, France after appropriate review. Approximately 100 French Legion of Honor medals will be awarded each year in the United States at the home of each veteran or at a public ceremony during a patriotic holiday event. Arrangements will be made after the awardees have been notified. Additional information can be provided by the French Defense Attache at (202) 944 6502 or FAX (202) 944 6538, and by Robert F. Elliott, VHA Liaison Officer, Policy, Planning, and Preparedness, (202) 273 - 9559. Further information about the May 8th award ceremony for SSGT Stevens may be obtained from the Consulate General of France in New York, 934 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10021, (212) 606-3600.







Fort Hood Memorial

FtHoodMem1On November 10, 2005, a memorial to the 761st Tank Battallion was dedicated at Ft. Hood, Texas. The 761st, the first African-American armored unit to engage in combat in World War II, was formed in 1942 and trained against Tank Destroyer Forces at Fort Hood beginning in September 1943. Photos provided by Ivan Harrison, Jr., are in an album in the Gallery. FtHoodMem2The memorial includes four monoliths, each with information on both sides about the history of the 761st. The information on the monoliths includes a map showing their path through Europe, Ruben Rivers's picture and citation, the awards earned, major combat engagements, the troop composition, a list of units the 761st supported, the Presidential Unit Citation and one with a wreath near the top listing the names of those that died during combat. The stone supporting the statue of the kneeling tanker with the binoculars in his hand has an image on each of its four sides. The monoliths were made in Killeen, the block supporting the statue was made in Waco, Texas, and the statue was made in Italy of stone from the same quarry that Michelangelo used for his statues.






761st Models

Don Haney of the Minnesota Military Figure Society has been working on projects based on the 761st Tank Battalion. His recently completed Men of the 761st model figure project was entered in a local Armor Modeling and Preservation Society (AMPS) competition on May 21st, 2011, where it earned a gold medal. The figures are 1/35 scale resin castings and are painted in acrylics. Don is currently working on a 1/35 scale M4A3 76(W) Sherman tank. There have been various inquiries from model builders interested in the 761st Tank Battalion. Don says, " I welcome any questions or comments you may have about the project. If interested in how this project was accomplished, you can read my build log on the Armorama discussion forum" (click here).

Don Haney Don Haney  

September 9, 2013, update:  Donald has "completed 761st Sherman that I was working on ... back in April but I still have plans for a scenic base."