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.