M-Sgt. Wayne Reece, an employee of the Texas Army National Guard Camp Bowie Training Site in Brownwood, donned historic Buffalo Soldlier gear last week to honor the military heroes who served with that group who are buried in Greenleaf Cemetery.
He was joined by several other local residents with an interest in observing February as Black History Month and in promoting local black history in particular.
“We’re paying tribute the the Buffalo Soldiers, which were a black military regiment formed after the Civil War,” Reece said. “Four members are buried at Greenleaf Cemetery.”
In addition to the official historic uniform, Reece brought with him a worn Buffalo Soldier flag.
While the names of the four were not immediately available, cemetery officials did point out the location of the grave of one veteran – George E. Smith, who died in 1913.
A native of Virginia, Smith was sent west after enlisting in the Army and was involved in protecting settlers from Indian attacks in various states. He ended his service at Fort Concho and became a school trustee in Tom Green County. An elder in the AME Church, Smith was organizing congregations when he came to Brownwood in 1885. Here, he established the first school for African-American children, and organized Lee Chapel AME Church. A federal housing facility here bears his name.
Buffalo Soldiers is the name attributed to two U.S. Army African American cavalry regiments formed in Kansas in 1866, the 9th and 10th cavalries, in Kansas. They were joined by two all-black infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th. In the 1950s, Buffalo Soldier regiments were disbanded when all military services were integrated.