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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Black history, family history

I was talking with my sister the other day and she reminded me of an article about my brother Wilton that appeared in a 1958 issue of Jet Magazine, entitled "Lone Negro GI Tells of 16 Shell-Shocked Days on Quemoy."  She kindly sent me her copy, so in keeping with Black History month I'd like to share the text of the article with you: 

 In an exclusive interview on Formosa with Jet reporter Marc Crawford, Pfc. Wilton McKenzie, only Negro on Quemoy, told how he faced death from Communist artillery for 16 days to keep the Nationalist Chinese outpost in radio contact with its Formosa headquarters. A volunteer member of the 21-man American Military Advisory Group, McKenzie recalled "when the first round fell August 23 . . . I thought it was a short round fired by the Nationalists, a mistake you know . . . then they began dropping them in every 45 seconds, shelling us from three sides and I knew this was for real . . . the Communists were playing for keeps."

The Americans, said McKenzie, were quartered in a concrete bunker, "which shook like Jello under the heavy artillery fire."  He added: "But, there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it.  We were only there as advisors."  After the first 60,000 round barrage, the former art student remembered he ran out of the shelter to check the generators, "but I stopped short, frozen . . . Some Chinese soldier had lost his arm and it was resting on top of my generators.  Not far away was a leg and," he continued, "then I saw three wounded soldiers . . . They died 20 minutes later."

Relieved September 9, McKenzie left for Formosa by plane under a hail of artillery fire.  Remembering his buddies, he declared "I'm naturally glad to get out of there, but I'm concerned about the guys I left."

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This year's Black History Month theme is "African Americans and the Civil War". . . I guess when you're a soldier under fire, the name of the war doesn't make a difference.  My brother Wilton (we called him "Wimp") pulled two tours of duty in Vietnam, along with my brothers Lafon and Ben.  At the time of the attack I knew something "big" had happened concerning Wimp but I was too young to really understand what it meant.  They are all deceased now, but we were very proud of the role they played in serving our country, and of the page Wimp contributed to Black History. 


  1. Wow Linda..to have had 3 brothers...and now all gone...yes you have certainly a lot to be proud of ...why we still have wars today is beyond my understanding...surely there are other ways to resolve conflict today. Sadly we lose far too many wonderful spirits....I raise my cup to you and your family.

  2. Your brother was truly amazing --how did your poor mother cope with three sons in the war. Thanks for sharing your family with us. Wimp was certainly not a wimp. Do you have other siblings??

  3. So many unsung heroes...my admiration of these type of men just skyrockets; those 'who just go out and do their jobs' as many have said. Thanks for sharing a personal moment with us

  4. Linda, what a wonderful legacy for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. Robin

  5. wow, linda that was so interesting. i have learned alot from my quilting sisters about black history that was not told to us. i received a black history postcard and showed it at work and one of my coworkers found out that the person on the postcard was related to them.

  6. Thank You for sharing this story with us all. It's wonderful your sister has kept that article for all these years.
    Isn't it sad that we are still waisting these wonderful men in wars that never seem to end.

  7. What an awesome honor. I did not know that of your brother. Thank God for his service and all others who are continuing to fight in wars to keep us safe.


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