Fort Benning school celebrates milestone by honoring namesake, Medal of Honor Recipient
Students, faculty and staff paused Friday to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Freddie Stowers Elementary by honoring the school’s namesake.
Corporal Freddie Stowers was killed in action on September 28, 1918, during an assault on German troops in the Ardennes region of France during World War I.
In 1991, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism during the battle. He is the only African American to receive the honor for service during that war.
On Friday, the school celebrate the 25th anniversary of its opening by welcoming 26 descendants of Cpl. Stowers to a celebration at the school. The family members traveled to Fort Benning from South Carolina for the event. Following a flag presentation outside the school, the celebration moved to the school’s gymnasium, where students read poems and sang songs dedicated to Cpl. Stowers and listened to a presentation by his great-niece, Frances Etwas.
The school also unveiled its new mascot, Freddie the Stallion, during the assembly.
Freddie Stowers was born and raised in Sandy Springs, S.C., located about 30 miles east of Greenville, near the Georgia stateline.
He was inducted into the army following the first military draft of World War I. He began his military career at Fort Jackson, S.C. where he was a member of the First Provisional Infantry Regiment, an all African American unit.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, on September 28, 1918, while serving as a squad leader, Stowers went above and beyond the call of duty when his company led the attack at Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France.
Shortly after the attack began, German soldiers came out of the trenches, waving a white flag, leading Stowers and his company to believe they were surrendering. However, it was apparently a trick and soon after the American forces came out of their trenches, the German soldiers again opened fire.
Stowers led his company to the enemy trench line to take out a machine gun post. As Stowers and his men moved forward he was shot several times, but continued to go on with his company and after finally collapsing, encouraged his men to go forward without him. The members of Stowers’ squad pressed on, motivated by his heroism and eventually captured of Hill 188.
He is buried, along with 133 of his comrades, at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery outside the French village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.
Stowers’ commanding officer recommended him for the Medal of Honor after his death, but the paperwork was misplaced. Nearly 70 years later, on April 24, 1991, President George H.W. Bush presented Stowers’ Medal of Honor to his two sisters, Georgiana Palmer and Mary Bowens at a White House ceremony.
Two years later, on August 24, 1993, Freddie Stowers Elementary opened its doors at Fort Benning, where it has been educating the children of U.S. Military personnel stationed for the past 25 years.