Men praised for Buffalo Soldier contributions
July 30, 2009
By Tisha Johnson, Fort Leavenworth Lamp
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (July 30, 2009) — Two community members who are part of the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and the monument to the group at Fort Leavenworth were honored for their continuing contributions to the community July 28, at the Frontier Conference Center.
U.S. Army Combined Arms Center Chief of Staff Col. Dominic Pompelia Jr. said it was fitting to honor former Buffalo Soldier James Madison and retired Navy Cmdr. Carlton Philpot on the anniversary of the creation of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments.
The ceremony was to honor “trooper Madison, whose honorable service as a Buffalo Soldier contributed to the history that made the monuments at the Circle of Firsts possible, and commander Philpot, whose dedication to this community and the memory of Buffalo Soldiers made this monument possible,” Pompelia said.
Pompelia said he knew both of the men would say the attention should be focused on the many Buffalo Soldiers and supporters in the community and those who blazed a trail of courage and service before them.
“But leadership matters, our community and our Army have benefited from their leadership and we would all like to formally recognize them here today,” Pompelia said.
The day also marked the anniversary of the ground-breaking ceremony for the Buffalo Soldier Monument.
“Nineteen years ago today General Colin Powell spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Buffalo Soldier Monument,” Pompelia said. “He stated that this monument was just one chapter in a proud and glorious history, a history of uninterrupted courage, valor and patriotism – a history that continues to be written by Buffalo Soldiers and their supporters from the community to this very day.”
Completion of the Buffalo Soldier Monument was a beginning, not an end, Pompelia said.
“On this 19th anniversary … we honor two extraordinary community leaders who continue to break ground and work daily so that our community, our Army and our nation will never forget the sacrifice and accomplishments of those who came before them and share their passion for creating a better future,” Pompelia said.
Philpot served in the Navy for more than 24 years and retired in the Leavenworth community in 1994. He was chairman and project director for the group that built the Buffalo Soldier Monument, dedicated July 25, 1992. Philpot has also been instrumental in the project known as the Circle of Firsts near the Buffalo Soldier Monument, which commemorates the first black graduate of West Point, the first black four-star general in the Army and the first black paratroopers.
Philpot is an assistant professor in the business department at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.
“We cannot possibly name all the ways Commander Philpot gives to this community, but his service goes above and beyond work with the Buffalo Soldiers,” Pompelia said. “He is the project chairman of the Richard Allen Cultural Center Museum expansion project, has volunteered with Junior ROTC programs and is involved in church events and many other programs.”
Pompelia awarded Philpot with the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for service to Fort Leavenworth, the greater Kansas City Area, and as a concerned and engaged member of the community.
Philpot listed and thanked members of the committee and others who were involved with the Buffalo Soldier Monument. Philpot said he had made one mistake with the monument, not listing the committee members at the monument.
“We will do another marker to make sure these members of the committee and others are listed,” Philpot said. “I hope the hand of providence will guide us again as we finish the monument with some other projects we have in mind.”
Madison became a Buffalo Soldier at Fort Leavenworth in 1942 and was assigned to Troop E, 10th U.S. Horse Cavalry, until 1945.
“There wouldn’t be anyone to build the monument for, if it wasn’t for the honorable service of Buffalo Soldiers like trooper Madison,” Pompelia said. “Of course, his service to the community and to the Buffalo Soldiers never ended.”
Madison is the president of the Kansas City chapter of the 9th and 10th Buffalo Soldier Cavalry Association.
In addition to association meetings, Madison travels two or three times per week to speak at schools, colleges and other events about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
“With tireless energy, he has never rejected a request to support Fort Leavenworth, the community or our nation,” Pompelia said.
Madison was also present at the White House for the commissioning of the Buffalo Soldier stamp.
“A deservedly proud moment for former Buffalo Soldier, combat veteran and a 33-year Postal Service employee,” Pompelia said.
Pompelia awarded Madison the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for service to Fort Leavenworth and the greater Kansas City area as president of the 9th and 10th Horse Cavalry Association.
Madison said he was proud to see so many people at the award ceremony – something he didn’t expect.
“But, of course, it is always welcome whenever someone or a group of people that think so much of you let you know it,” Madison said. “By your attendance here today it makes me feel real good and real proud.”
Madison said Powell spoke to the members of the Buffalo Soldier Association on their buses after the monument dedication.
“He said, ‘I’ve started this and it’s up to you to finish it,'” Madison said. “He said, ‘Go to all the schools and learned institutions that you can go to and spread the word, let them know where they come from.'”
Madison said he has never turned down a request to make an appearance in Leavenworth and he has never turned down a request from any school, college or organization to make an appearance. He said sometimes he had to go to events alone, but he still went.
Madison thanked everyone for their support of him and what he has done.
“I didn’t expect no praise for it,” Madison said. “I did it because it was something that had to be done and should have been done.”