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Seven blacks awarded Medal of Honor for WWII
WASHINGTON (AP) ? Vemon Baker was standing in the White
nouse wiui glistening eyes and
, a brand new medal around his
neck, but his mind was on the
Italian mountainside where he
earned his place in history 52
Baker, 77, was reliving the
April 1945 firefight in which he
took out German gun posts and
killed nine enemy soldiers with
a gun and hand grenades. He
thought of the other black men
who fought beside him and died around him as they awaited rein
forcements that never came.
"We've all been vindicated," Baker said. "Those that are not here
with me, thank you, fellas, well done and I'll always remember you."
Baker, of St. Maries, Idaho, was one of seven black soldiers
awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday for World War II valor that
was overlooked by the Army of a tense, segregated era.
Medals were awarded posthumously to Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter
Jr. of Los Angeles; 1st Lt. John R. Fox of Cincinnati; Pfc. Willy F.
James Jr. of Kansas City, Mo.; 1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas of Detroit;
Pvt. George Watson of Birmingham, Ala.; and Staff Sgt. Ruben
Rivers of Hotulka, Okla. Fox, James, Rivers and Watson were killed
in action. Carter died in 1963, and Thomas died in 1980.
"We're just happy the country we believe in has done this," said
Thomas' niece, Sandra Thomas. "My uncle was an humble man. He
believed in this country and he fought for it I believe young people
need to take a lesson from this."
* In presenting the medals. President Clinton praised the seven
men for fighting selflessly "to lead the forces of freedom to victory"
in spite of the freedom they didn't have in their native America.
"They were prepared to sacrifice everything for freedom even
though freedom's fullness was denied to them," Clinton said. "Now
and forever, the truth will be known about these African Americans
who gave so much. that the rest of us might be free."
A single tear rolled down Baker's left cheek as he listened to Clinton.
He received a standing ovation as he entered the East Room and took
Please see page 5
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- The Choice for African-American News and Information
__?xL*5t^St P?8 It* *C0i2 THURSDAY, January 16,1997 ,
Items from an Espial Oddess\
Native: Happy Hills
to Haven of History
f.-lHow probable is it that an
African-American family from
encounter another Winston
Salem family in Egypt? Surely
it is more that 65 million-ta
one, which is the population of
Egypt. Anything is possible,
for last week, it did occur,
resulting in smiles bright as the
Lt. Col. Bernard Jerome
Witten, United States Army, is
chief of Defense Industrial
Cooperation. He is assigned to
the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. His
family was taking a holiday
break ? like my wife, Vivian,
and I ? visiting the impressive
terraced and colonnaded tem
ple dedicated to Queen Hat
shepsut, near Luxor, some 500
miles south of Cairo.
All along, we had been
greeted by Egyptians as their
"Nubian brother and sister."
Upon spotting the Wittens,
Vivian "intuitively" reasoned
that "they look like Ameri
cans." She gravitated over to
the children and let out a yelp:
"Lord, have mercy, they're
from Winston, too!"
Jerome, 46, is the son of
Annette S. Thompson, stepson
of Willie E. Thompson of New
Walkertown Rd. He and his sis
ter, Willette, now of Washing
ton, D.C., grew up in Happy
Hiii Gardens, through their
"adolescent years." He fondly
remembers his friends Larry
Little and Willard McCloud Jr.,
though he "has too many
friends in Winston to mention
(any) without insulting any,
since all can't be named." The
R.J. Reynolds grad attended
IDiggs Elementary, and, for a
time, Anderson High.
Witten remembers Thomas
Hintoh well, and he sends a
hearty "hello and thanks" to
Moses Lucas of the YMCA.
Witten recalls Hinton and
Lucas fondly as memorable
adult role models; but, he
quickly adds, "My mom and
dad are my most significant
role models; they taught me the
meaning of hard work and sac
rifice." Mrs. Thompson worked
as a secretary for many years at
Western Electric. Mr. Thomp
son was a dock worker for the
After a couple years of
study at North Carolina A&T,
where he met and married his
wife, Dorothy, Witten joined
the U.S. Army ? he now has
two dozen years of service. He
took an undergraduate degree
from Florida State and a mas
ter's in General Administration
from Central Michigan Univer
Mrs. Witten, a NC A&T
Please see page 5
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Villagers in Uganda receive water from a clean water system, which was built by the local YMCA.
Winston Lake, Uganda YMCAs join
to build relations, provide
By MAURICE CROCKER
Community News Reporter
,he Winston Lake YMCA
rr*nall?ws parents and chil
I Wen of Winston-Salem the
? opportunity to enjoy fam
? ily entertainment through a
? variety of physical and
? educational activities.
MosCpeople are familiar with the
kinds of programs offered by the YMCA.
But what isn't common knowledge is the
service-and help the YMCA is doing for
young men and women in Africa.
For the past 10 years, ambassadors
from the Winston Lake YMCA have trav
eled to Africa in an effort to develop a
relationship between the YMCAs in Africa
and those in America.
Every two years, the Board of Man
agement chooses someone to serve as an
ambassador and make the trip.
"The purpose of the trip is to establish
a partnership between the YMCA in
America and those in Africa, and the
objetft is to identify the needs of their
YMCAs and try to provide them," said
Cheryl Harry, chairman of the public rela
tions committee for YMCA.
Harry, who is also a board member,
was chosen to travel to Africa as a YMCA
According to Harry, the 19-day trip
took them on a four-city tour to Ethiopia,
Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Harry said the Winston Lake YMCA
has developed a partnership with the Jinja
branch YMCA in Uganda.
Although this is only the fifth African
Connection trip made by Winston Lake,
the Africa Alliance of YMCAs is celebrat
ing its 20 anniversary.
Harry said she is sure the YMCA was
present in Africa, providing services,
before the Alliance was formed.
According to Harry, the Uganda
YMCA is in need of financial support, so
they can continue building clinics and
"They build the clinics for the women
in the villages, because the hospitals are so
far away," she said. "They also build the
schools for the children who aren't able to
afford public education." .
In Uganda, parents are required to pay
a fee for their children's education, Harry
The YMCA offers free educational
classes for those people who can't afford
When a school is built, the YMCA
Please see page 7
A Gathering of Good Men
A Al Martin: Radio Godfather of Gospel Music
Al Martin still maintains his broadcast skills and
can "hook up to a station at anytime."
For many years, the city^f Winston-Salem
has had the privilege of being hwie for a number
of fine craftsmen. Here the %inston-Salem
Chronicle pauses to recognize a few who have
offered their services for more than 30 years.
When he worked as the DJ, announcer, reli
gious director and music director at WSMX
Radio, Al Martin earned the title "Godfather of
Gospel Music." He has been in radio announcing
for 30 years, from 1966 to 1996.
Born in Winston-Salem as Alphonso Norris
Martin, he attended the local schools. He is a
graduate of Atkins High School, Friendship
Junior College of Rock Hill, S.C., and New York
School of Announcing and Speech. The walls of
his home are covered with various awards he has
earned in is field.
Martin received honors and a plaque from the
New York School of Announcing in 1966 for
being the best announcer in his class of 32. He
hoi as*a third-class Radio Operator's License. He
said he could go to his control room and sit all
night working on various projects.
He has taught a course on how to be a
DJ/announcer at Forsyth Technical Community
College for four years.
He began his career one month after graduat
ing from the New York School of Announcing
and Speech at station WEUP in Huntersville, Ala.
He returned home in September 1966 and began
working for WAAA in February 1967. He worked
there until 1974, when he resigned and worked
for eight months as gospel announcer for WEAL
Martin returned to WAAA in late 1974 and
reclaimed his former position as gospel
announcer. In 1981, he took a position at WAIR
as gospel director and announcer until 1982.
when he joined the staff of WSMX. He has also
worked for WTNC in Thomasville, and WMQX
and WOKX in High Point.
He is married to Lillian Martin, who is also a
licensed radio personality, who began working at
WAAA in 1968. The Martins have one daughter.
Beverly Clark, and one granddaughter, Denise
Clark, of Marietta, Ga.
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