Officers of the 366th Infantry Regiment returning home from WWI service.The U.S. armed forces remained segregated through World War I. Still, many African Americans eagerly volunteered to join the Allied cause following America's entry into the war. By the time of the armistice with Germany on November 1918, over 350,000 African Americans had served with the American Expeditionary Force in on the Western Front.
Most African American units were largely relegated to support roles and saw little combat. Still, African Americans played a major role in America's war effort. One of the most distinguished units was the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Harlem
Helfighters," which was on the front lines for six months, longer then any other African American regiment in the war. One hundred seventy-one members of the 396th were awarded the Legion of Merit.
Corporal Freddie Stowers of the 371st Infantry Regiment was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor—the only African American to be so honored for actions in World War I. During action in France, Stowers had led an assault on German trenches, continuing to lead and encourage his men even after being twice wounded. Stowers died from his wounds, but his men continued the fight and eventually defeated the German troops. Stowers was recommended for the Medal of Honor shortly after his death, but the nomination was, according to the Army, misplaced.
'''Spanish Civil War'''
African-American activist and World War I veteran Oliver Law, fighting in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, is believed to have been the first African-American officer to command white American troops.
=== World War II ===