News: Harlem Hellfighter commander to honor WWI gravesite of Cpl. Morris Link
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- New York Army National Guard Col. Reginald Sanders, commander of the famous 369th Sustainment Brigade, New York's "Harlem Hellfighters," pays tribute to a WWI veteran of the organization, buried here on Memorial Day.
WHAT: A day-long commemoration of the service and sacrifice of military personnel buried in Mount Vernon, including a wreath laying at the gravesite of Cpl. Morris Link.
WHO: Col. Reginald Sanders, commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, New York Army National Guard honors Cpl. Morris D. Link.
WHEN: Monday, May 28, 2012 at 11 a.m.
WHERE: St. Paul's Church, a National Historic Site, 897 South Columbus Avenue, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
Visual imagery of Col. Sanders laying a wreath at the gravesite of Cpl. Morris Link and speaking at the event. Interviews with the commander of the modern-day 369th "Harlem Hellfighters."
369th Sustainment Brigade:
The 369th Sustainment Brigade is designed to provide command and control for combat service & combat service support units in a combat theater. The New York Army National Guard's 369th Sustainment Brigade traces its lineage back the 15th New York Infantry Regiment in 1916, which was based in Harlem and composed of Black soldiers.
In 1917 the unit was federalized and deployed to France and designated the 369th Infantry Regiment of the National Army, but the soldiers were initially employed in unloading ships because the Army was reluctant to let Black soldiers fight. The French Army, though, had no such qualms, and in April 1918 the regiment was assigned to the French 16th Division. While fighting with the French the unit earned 171st Legion of Honor Awards and Private Henry Johnson became the first American soldier awarded the French Croix de Guerre for driving away a German patrol in hand-to-hand combat.
The Regiment's band, composed of many professional Black musicians, is credited with introducing Jazz to Europe.
Following World War I the unit remained part of the New York Army National Guard. During World War II the unit was reorganized first as a Coast Artillery and then an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, fighting in the Pacific. In the 1950s it became an Artillery battalion and then a transportation battalion in the 1970s and the 369th Transportation Battalion Deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 in support of Operation Desert Storm. In 1994 it became the 369th Support Battalion and the 369th Sustainment Brigade in 2007.
Cpl. Morris D. Link
Morris D. Link, a Mt. Vernon corporal, served in World War I with the legendary 369th Infantry, Harlem Hellfighters, and was killed in action, receiving the French War Cross.
Early on the morning of July 15, 1918, the 369th came under heavy artillery bombardment, part of the Second Battle of the Marne, as the French struggled to hold off a German offensive. The shells fell with particular ferocity on the front line trenches, which were held by Link and soldiers of the regiment's Company K. Cpl. Link was among four soldiers killed in the action.
Link was one of 85 Mt. Vernon soldiers killed during World War I. The city planted trees in honor of each of the fallen, and the sapling commemorating Link was based on Wallace Avenue at the intersection with Westchester Avenue.
The day-long event also features living history demonstration by Civil War re-enactors and a performance and sing-along of songs that soldiers would have sung and heard from the Revolutionary War through the 20th century.
A special talk explores the changing nature of the military draft throughout American history, along with tours of the cemetery grounds that include many Civil War veterans, helping to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the epic struggle of 1861-65.
Parking and admission are free. For more information about St. Paul's Church National Historic Site, visit www.nps.gov/sapa.
Date Posted:05.27.2012 08:16
Location:MOUNT VERNON, NY, US
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