Black soldiers in gun crew observing from back of vehicle.

Photos from Ohio National Guard Heritage Center Collections

A heavy machine gun crew from Company H, 372nd Infantry guards a road during a training exercise at Fort Dix, N.J. in 1941. In March of that year, members of the Ohio National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry were inducted into federal service, with the all-Black unit being the final formation in the state to enter active-duty service for World War II.

2-372nd Infantry leaves for World War II service

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio National Guard historian

On March 10, 1941, members of the Ohio National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry were inducted into federal service by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The all-Black unit was the final formation in the state to enter active duty for a one-year training period in response to the growing war in Europe.

The segregated battalion was first organized in 1881 from existing units as the 9th Battalion of Infantry. During World War I, segregated National Guard units from several states were consolidated to form the 372nd Infantry. The 9th Battalion became the 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry and earned the French Croix de Guerre during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. The battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. James A. Nichols, reorganized in the Ohio National Guard in 1924 and had units stationed in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo in March 1941.

Following induction, the battalion moved to Fort Dix, N.J. where it underwent basic military training. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the units were moved to various locations in New York City to guard critical infrastructure there as part of Eastern Defense Command. The battalion remained in this role until April 1944, when the unit moved to Camp Breckenridge, Ky., where it provided an accelerated six-week course of infantry training to Black Soldiers who volunteered for transfer to the infantry. In November, the battalion was moved once again to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where it remained until April 1945.

On May 1, 1945, the 372nd Infantry pulled out of the Seattle Port of Embarkation, arriving seven days later at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. World War II ended while the battalion was there, and the unit was inactivated on Jan. 31, 1946.

Upon reorganization of the Ohio National Guard after World War II, the former elements of the 2nd Battalion reorganized in the Ohio National Guard as the 372nd Infantry Battalion. The battalion remained segregated until 1954. Upon the reorganization of the Ohio Army National Guard in 1959, the battalion was removed from Ohio’s troop allotment and the companies were reorganized as various units.

Today, the 237th Support Battalion — part of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team — perpetuates the lineage of the 2-372nd Infantry. The 237th is authorized the coat of arms and distinctive unit insignia of the former organization. Displayed on the organizational colors is a World War II Asiatic-Pacific campaign streamer, denoting the 2nd Battalion, 372nd Infantry’s service in that theater during the war.

Photos from Ohio National Guard Heritage Center Collections

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Stow armory with 1st Sgt Robert Pinn super imposed

Stow armory named for U.S. Colored Troops hero during Civil War

First Sgt. Robert Pinn (1843-1911) earned the Medal of Honor during the Battle of New Market Heights, Va. on Sept. 29, 1864. He was the first Black Soldier to have an armory or readiness center named after him in the state, in the early 1970s, when the new Ohio Army National Guard Armory in Stow was opened.


In Their Own Words: Integration of the 372nd Infantry

Lt. Col. Jason Palmer was the commander of the 372nd Infantry Battalion from 1949 to 1959, when the unit was reorganized. The all-Black battalion was one of two segregated units in the Ohio Army National Guard when integration occurred in July 1954.


The Color of Courage:
The 93rd Division

The 93rd Division formed on Nov. 23, 1917, and consisted of the 369th, 370th, 371st and 372nd Infantry. Three of the four units held National Guard lineage, including the 372nd, composed of two National Guard battalions from Washington D.C. and Ohio.