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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bowman faced some discrimination during military service

Bowman was the only black soldier in his troop at Fort Benning, and he remembers two incidents when he was treated differently. His commanding officer did not let him know he could invite family to watch him get his commission, and he was also barred from a party in a segregated club.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
What was that like? Going from Tuskeegee, coming from the South and going over to Europe?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Well, you know-let me backtrack a bit. You talk about integration and whatnot, segregation-that's when I first started feeling segregation. When I got my commission at Fort Bening. They-I didn't know it was a tradition-it's a tradition to invite your girlfriend/wife/or mother to come down and pin your bars on you. They didn't tell me anything about that. So, I didn't have anybody to pin my bars on me when I got my commission. So, my white captain, Captain Sutnick-I'll never forget him-had to pin my bars on me. And all of the white soldiers had invited their friends and family down, but I had noone there to pin mine on. Because again, I was the only uh-black in that group getting a commission and that's the way I feel [unclear] {the next few words are unintelligible] You go to Ordinance School when you leave there and I was the only black in the Ordinance School which almost created an incident upon graduation there. We went out celebrate and ended up going to a white nightclub and when I walked in somebody put their arm around my neck and said, "Nigger, you not comin in here." Of course, I was in civilian clothes and all of my classmates that had gotten there earlier saw what was happening and came up to my rescue and made the man let go of me. But, uh-
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, were you allowed to stay?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
No. We had to leave. In fact, this was at the Picadilly Club in Baltimore, Maryland and uh, we left and I had a friend at a black nightclub that I had been to before the comedy club- so I called down at the comedy club and told them what happened and told them they wouldn't let me in there and told them I had some friends and they were white and that we were out celebrating the end of our class, graduation. And I asked them if I could bring the white friends out and he said "sure, bring em on down." So, we all went down to the comedy club-in Baltimore-that's where we had our party, yeah.