Special Reports

Segregated troops flown to Hanford in 1948

A story about Army maneuvers at Hanford caught my eye with the casual mention that the troops airlifted to Richland were "Negro."

A timeline from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum states:

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

July 26, 1948: Army staff officers state anonymously to the press that Executive Order 9981 does not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.

July 27, 1948: Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley states that desegregation will come to the Army only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.

July 29, 1948: President Truman states in a press conference that the intent of Executive Order 9981 is to end segregation in the armed forces.

Air lift flies troops to positions

By the Herald staff

Published on Oct. 27, 1948

Elements of the Second Infantry division today occupied defensive positions in the Hanford project after the first air lift operation in the project's history.

Ten "flying boxcars" about noon Tuesday landed some 250 infantry of the 9th Infantry regiment at the Atomic Energy commission airport near Richland. The men, quickly deployed in trucks to positions in the area, were reinforced last night by another 500 or so men of the battalion tank force. The larger force was convoyed from Ft. Lewis.

The maneuver, ordered by Sixth Army headquarters in San Francisco, was to test the ability of planes to move troops into the Hanford area, Lt. Col. C. C. Smith, Sixth Army observer, said

Sixth army is commanded by Gen. Mark W. Clark.

The planes, two-engined, twin-tailed C82's of the 62nd Troop Carrier unit at McChord Field, landed at intervals of about four minutes. The first sky giant set its wheels down at 11:10 a.m. and the last one 40 minutes later. Each transported about 30 men carrying regular infantry arms -- rifles, light machine guns, 60-MM mortars, etc. -- and full field packs. The men also carried three-days supply of "K ration."

The 9th Infantry is composed of Negro troops. Many of its officers are white. The task force was commanded by Col. G.D.N. Lodoen.

Colonel Smith said the movement was to have been made after a surprise alert. The trucks left Ft. Lewis at 8:33 and the planes started takeoffs from McChord Field at 10 p.m. The first plane arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Landing of the "flying boxcars" was directed by Harry Lewis, chief radio operator for Hanford area security. Smith reported that the landings practically were "blind" and that the pilots depended almost entirely upon Lewis' radioed commands.

All of the sky carriers landed without mishap. As soon as the first plane landed the commanding officer was given the "problem."

Trucks for the airborne troops were supplied by the ACE. This was arranged by Lt. Cool Richard Siege, liaison officer at the project for Sixth Army. The forced used its own drivers and supplemented these vehicles with several jeeps and trailers bought from Ft. Lewis in the planes.

Colonel Smith said the maneuvers, during which the men will sleep and eat in the field, would last "several days." It is one of the periodic training problems of Sixth Army to acquaint officers and troops with the area and the defense of it. Last maneuver was late in April and early May.