Monday, February 12, 2007

761st Tank Battalion - World War II

Cleo Caval Haynes Dickason Blakely was my grandfather's sister. She was born in Brushy Ridge, Greenbrier County and was one of the 14 children of George Washington Haynes and Elizabeth Jane Payne Haynes Haynes Lewis.

Cleo was a teacher in a number of locations in W.V. and she was also the principal of a school. I saw her a couple of times when I was a small child. The only thing I can recall about her was the delightful task of brushing her waist long black hair.

When I began to do genealogical research I learned a lot more about Aunt Cleo including the fact that she had a son, Sidney Andrew Dickason, who was a member of the 761st Tank Battalion in World War II.

Yesterday as I was flipping through the channels, and upon seeing the face of a Black soldier, I stopped at the HISTORY CHANNEL. To my surprise, the channel was airing the documentary FIRST TO FIGHT - THE BLACK TANKERS OF WORLD WAR II.

Here are a few quotes from the documentary:
"676 African American soldiers" ... "seven-six-one tank battalion" ... (Patton said) "Your people are looking for great things out of you" ... "awarded the Presidential Unit Citation" ... "34 men from the 761st died" ... "US Army - Fort Hood".

Also see "BROTHERS IN ARMS = The Courageous Story of World War II's 761st Black Panthers" by Kareem Abdul Jabbar & Anthony Walton.

The documentary was very moving & I was proud to know I had a cousin who was a member of the battalion. I'm not sure how many other citizens of West Virginia were members of this battalion. I hope to visit the D-Day Museum in New Orleans to follow up on this documentary and perhaps do some research to see if I can find other WV names.


Anonymous said...

I found your site and have enjoyed. I am researching my daughter's family which is also my ex-husband's family, we are still friends fortunately. My daughter's great grandfather was Elmer C Haynes. His father was George W. Haynes who was married to a Louisa M. Shenall. George's father was Reuban Haynes who was married to Nancy Hargo. Is this the same George W. Haynes of whom you speak?

Anonymous said...

No, the George Washington Haynes who is a central character in my work was married only once to Elizabeth Jane Payne Haynes Haynes Lewis. GWH seems to have always lived in Monroe or Greenbrier. Elizabeth had relatives in Summers & Fayette County but lived in MC & GC after she married GWH. These names are familiar however (Reuben, Louisa, etc.) Write me at & I'll let you know what I have on Reuben & Louisa.

Anonymous said...

My great-grandparents, James and Loma Haynes, are from Brushy Ridge in Ronceverte. Not sure if they are related to the Haynes that you mentioned. You can contact me at Maybe we can exchange information and we might even be related.

Anonymous said...

suem, I believe we are related! George W. Haynes was my great-grandfather, George B. Haynes and Ellen E. Haynes were my great-grandparents. My mother (Sharon) is trying to research this side of her family and would like to know who you are and possibly help you. Please contact me at

Anonymous said...

for more info on 761st:
film: the liberators
book: patton's panthers
you will be surprised to learn how hard this tank battalion,"came out fighting!"