Remembering history's forgotten segregated soldiers

Posted at 6:39 PM, Nov 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 11:57:46-05

As the nation pauses this Veterans Day to remember all those who served, there are some who feel history has forgotten a group of soldiers who sacrificed for freedom but were treated as second-class citizens while in uniform.

"Somebody dug a big hole and buried it.  It has been kept under wraps," said World War II veteran George Watts from Buffalo.

Watts is the last-known living Erie County WWII veteran who served in a segregated U.S. Army unit.

"Whatever the white anybody said, you had no comeback," added Watts, who said soldiers in his unit were restricted on ammunition for fear they might shoot white officers.  

However, when it came to dangerous duty, Watts' group was sent to the South Pacific to flush-out fanatical Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender when WWII was ending in 1945.

"It was brutal," said Watts.

Watts served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946.  President Truman ended segregation in the military after the war was over.

The elderly veteran is now hoping more emphasis will be made on remembering and teaching about those who served in segregated military units.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with the 93-year-old veteran as he and his family received a special VIP tour of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum.