Subj: from Harry Robb Welty re: George Robb
Date: 7/12/01 2:38:28 PM Central Daylight Time
Thank you for your call this afternoon.
My mother always told me that her father, George Seanor Robb, dismissed his award of the Congressional Medal of Honor by saying he always thought it was given for political reasons. By this I believe he meant that the institutional racism of his Era's military made it impossible to honor any black soldiers with such an exalted combat award. In fact, as you well know, the US Military was so embarrassed at having black soldiers during W.W.I that they gave the entire 369th regiment to the French Army.
Unable to award any of their valorous black troops the 369th's senior officers were delighted to have a white officer to nominate for the award. In receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor my grandfather was a good representative of the entire regiment's courage and valor if not of its racial make up.
My Grandfather, who was appointed Kansas State Auditor by Governor Alf Landon, gave a speech in the Fifties in which he vigorously defended the fighting ability of black soldiers. My grandfather was not only able to speak as the historian he was, about the black soldiers of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, but with the evidence from his own experience at Sechault, in France. I believe I've read that this French battle cost the lives of one-third of the American soldiers engaged.
I wish you success in your efforts to have the remarkable Henry Johnson win belated recognition for his exploits in battle. Surely Mr. Johnson was one of the soldiers my grandfather had in mind when he dismissed the awarding of his own Medal of Honor. Justice demands that a black soldier, particularly this black soldier, receive the recognition due him even if it must be posthumously.
I am delighted to have had the opportunity to talk to you and hope I can trouble you for additional information regarding my Grandfather's service with the 369th.
My home address is:
2101 E 4th St.
Duluth, MN 55812
Harry Robb Welty