Joseph Hairston enlisted in the Army in 1940 as an 18-year-old and still remembers the cold stares and disgusted gazes of his white commanding officers.
Hairston, 87, served in the 599th Field Artillery Battalion and became one of the Army's first black commissioned officers. He deployed to Italy in 1944 and, like other black soldiers, ate, slept and trained separately from white soldiers. Even so, Hairston remained in the Army and went on to serve in Korea. He retired after 20 years. "I believe in my country," Hairston said. "As bad as the past has been, there's nowhere else I want to be."
Hairston is a Buffalo soldier, one of thousands of African Americans who served in a segregated U.S. Army during World War II. This past weekend in Silver Spring, Hairston joined dozens of other Buffalo soldiers at the annual reunion …
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