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Cheyenne in Laramie County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
 

“Buffalo Soldiers”

1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker

 
 
"Buffalo Soldiers" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 26, 2016
1. "Buffalo Soldiers" Marker
Caption: 9th Cavalry, circa WWI, Fort Russell, Wy.
Inscription. right side
In 1866, following the American Civil War, Congress created six all African American Army units which later merged into four (9th and 10th Cavalry - 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments). Composed of former slaves, freemen, and black Civil War veterans, these units helped settle the west by escorting and protecting settlers, cattle drives, and railroad crews and tracks during westward expansion. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments also conducted campaigns against American Indian tribes on the western frontier. They fought in over 175 engagements. Their combat prowess, bravery, tenaciousness, and appearance on the battlefield, inspired the Indians to call them "Buffalo Soldiers" symbolizing their respect for the soldier's bravery and valor. Through the years, Buffalo Soldiers have continued to wear this name with pride.
The last segregated black regiment to see combat was deactivated in 1951. "Buffalo Soldier" has become a generic term for all African American Army soldiers and their bravery has earned them an honored place in U.S. history.

left side
1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on December 17, 1919 Vernon Baker would become the last of only nine World War II African Americans to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. Commissioned
1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 26, 2016
2. 1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker Marker
a 2nd Lieutenant after completing Officer Candidate School, Baker served in an all black company that was part of the 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry. On April 5-6, 1945, near Castle Aghinolfi in northern Italy, Baker, with the assistance of his men, showed extraordinary heroism by destroying two enemy positions. He then covered the evacuation of his company's wounded by drawing enemy fire to his exposed position. The following night he voluntarily led a battalion sized assault against the enemy through minefields and heavy fire. In the end, Baker and his unit would kill 26 Germans, destroy 6 machine gun nests, 2 observation posts and 4 dugouts in this predawn battle. Baker earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Distinguished Service Cross while becoming one of the most highly decorated African American soldiers serving in the Mediterranean Theater.
On January 13, 1997, 52 years after his World War II military service, President Bill Clinton presented Vernon Baker with the Metal of Honor, the Nation's highest decoration for battlefield valor. Baker was literally the last WWII Buffalo Soldier to be so recognized.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
 
Location. 41° 8.718′ N, 104° 50.198′ W. Marker is in Cheyenne
Buffalo Soldier statue by Chris Navarro image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 26, 2016
3. Buffalo Soldier statue by Chris Navarro
, Wyoming, in Laramie County. Marker is at the intersection of Randall Avenue and McComb Avenue, on the right when traveling east on Randall Avenue. Click for map. This statue is in a small triangular park bounded by Randall and McComb Avenues and West 32nd Street. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1399 Randall Ave, Cheyenne WY 82001, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Military 1867-1890 (here, next to this marker); The Military 1867-1949 (here, next to this marker); The Military 1949-Present (a few steps from this marker); 1980 Capitol North National Historic District (approx. ¾ mile away); Early Cheyenne Reservoir (approx. 0.8 miles away); Camp Carlin (approx. 0.8 miles away); Cheyenne Frontier Days™ (Part I) (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Trails (Part III) (approx. 0.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Cheyenne.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Buffalo Soldier - Wikipedia. Sources disagree on how the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877, the actual Cheyenne translation being "Wild Buffalo". However, writer Walter Hill documented the account of Colonel
Marching in the Desert with the Buffalo Soldiers by Frederic Remington image. Click for full size.
By Frederic Remington
4. Marching in the Desert with the Buffalo Soldiers by Frederic Remington
Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against Comanches. Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche due to Grierson's assertions. The Apache used the same term ("We called them 'buffalo soldiers', because they had curly, kinky hair ... like bisons") a claim supported by other sources.
(Submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 

2. Baker, Vernon - Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy. Then Second Lieutenant Baker demonstrated outstanding courage and leadership in destroying enemy installations, personnel and equipment during his company's attack against a strongly entrenched enemy in mountainous terrain... (Submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansMilitaryWars, US Indian
 
Vernon J. Baker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer
5. Vernon J. Baker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 248 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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