In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons designed to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, but it was an award he would never receive the nation s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers during World War II.
Forgotten is the story of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions on D-Day have gone unrecognized to the present. In this extraordinary blend of military and social history, Linda Hervieux brings to life the injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America and finally pays tribute to the valor of these brave young men.
Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Forgotten tells the tale of these heroic men whose contributions to one of the most extraordinary missions in modern history have been overlooked. Like thousands of other African Americans, members of the 320th Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, a bus porter who fled Virginia s sharecropping country; William Dabney, an eager seventeen-year-old army volunteer from Roanoke, Virginia; and Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home.
In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedoms they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens, and they would carry these experiences back to America, to fuel the budding civil rights movement.
Beautifully rendered, Forgotten offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice."