Recognition of Oliver Vincent Shields for Integrating U.S. Infantry during World War II
WHEREAS, over one million African-Americans of the United States served in the Armed Forces during World War II, of which over 80% served in the Army's segregated military units; and
WHEREAS, most African-Americans served in noncombat segregated service units and 708 were killed in combat related battles; and
WHEREAS, in 1944, General Eisenhower gave the okay to integrate some of the combat units during the Battle of the Bulge with over 5000 black soldiers volunteering to fight and only 2500 being selected for the infantry; and
WHEREAS, Oliver Vincent Shields landed at Normandy Beach during D-Day and was selected as one of the 2500 Black volunteers to serve in the 14th Armored Division (known as the ―Liberators‖); and fought in the 19th Armored Infantry Battalion C alongside White soldiers in Europe and was discharged from Camp Polk, LA with the 14th Armored Division in October, 1945; and
WHEREAS, Oliver Vincent Shields was selected by the American Battle Monuments Commission (a federal agency of the Executive Branch) in 2007 to be included in the ―Voices of Soldiers‖, an interactive database of the Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center, Colleville-Sur-Mer, France, above Omaha Beach, which receives over one million visitors a year; and where many American soldiers died; and
WHEREAS, Oliver Vincent Shields, age 85, is part of a very small group of 2500 Black men who integrated the infantry that are still living today; and
WHEREAS, while in 1945 in Germany during World War II, Oliver Vincent Shields and another soldier joined the NAACP for 50 cents, at the request of a member of the NAACP who had come to Europe with Black newspaper journalists to check on the conditions and treatment of Black soldiers; and
WHEREAS, when Oliver Vincent Shields returned from the war, he faced segregation, dismal employment opportunities, and other barriers, but soon began his fight for civil rights in his hometown of Chillicothe, Missouri and the State of Missouri; and
WHEREAS, Oliver Vincent Shields is a Diamond Life Member of the NAACP of the Kansas City, Missouri Branch, former Missouri State Conference President, has been actively involved in the NAACP for over 60 years, and served his country honorably during World War II in quartermaster and combat infantry capacities.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People shall recognize Oliver Vincent Shields for his dedicated service to his country in being one of the first 2500 Black men who volunteered, was chosen to integrate the infantry of the Army during World War II, and who fought with White soldiers to secure democracy.