FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – The Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence recognized African American soldiers today with a tour of historic sites and plaque dedications.
The tour highlighted several areas where Black Soldiers left their mark. The tour made its first stop at Net Hall, formerly known as the 24th Infantry Regiment Theater. The theatre, built in 1933, was an entertainment center for Black troops.
Commander Sergeant Major Derrick Garner gave a speech about his experience as a black soldier. After Garner’s speech, soldiers and guests gathered outside for the reveling of the new plaque. He says this moment is extremely important to him.
“It’s extremely powerful, they mean a lot to me. Not just being a soldier but just being an African American growing up here in the army,” Garner said.
The next stop on the tour was Building 82, previously known as Inf. Regt. Post Exchange. This building is the new home of the Officer Candidate School’s Hall of Fame. It was built in the late 1930s. A plaque was revealed there to mark the historic significance of the location.
The next stop was Colin Powell’s former home. Powell was the first African American Secretary of State, under President George W. Bush. He underwent basic infantry training at Fort Benning.
The group was greeted with snacks and drinks before the small ceremony began. After a brief history and recognition of Powell, the current family living in his previous home revealed his plague. Those in the audience gathered around for pictures.
The last stop of the Black History Month tour ended at MCoE Band Headquarters. The building is dedicated to Chief Warrant Officer Robert Tresville, who was the bandleader for 19 years. With Tresville’s family in attendance, officials revealed the plaque with the building’s new name.
The tour ended with soldiers singing The Army Song. Garner says this was a remarkable day and that it is important for African Americans to know their history.
“We have to acknowledge the totality of our history, American history and truly how impactful the African American community was to American history,” Garner said.