TROOPER James H. Critchfield The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Regiments were commanded by white officers, some were good and some did not make the grade.
Trooper Critchfield was rated by his men, as a very good officer. This is his story, and experiences with the 10th Cavalry Regiment.
In 1940 most of the officers in every cavalry regiment were Regular Army. All but chaplains and medical officers were white. The great influx of reserves was just ahead.
Born and raised in North Dakota against the traditions of the Great Plains, I had, prior to this assignment, virtually no contact with what today are described as "Black Americans".
In 1940 I was transferred from the 4th U.S. Cavalry to the 10th U.S. Cavalry. This was my first exposure to a subtle version of the discrimination that existed among many in the military services at that time. The 10th Cavalry, which had provided "school troops" at Leavenworth, was assembled in new World War II barracks and stables at Camp Funston, a part of the Fort Riley reservation.
I became the regimental communication officer with a platoon consisting of one Master Sergeant and one private -- no equipment at all. I managed to bring-the platoon up to a strength of perhaps 25. When most of a "big band" from Kansas City enlisted en masse at Leavenworth with an agreement that they would not go to the regimental band.
My Job was to teach the platoon to be disciplined, military in appearance, to march, to ride and to operate radios. It was a challenge and a thoroughly rewarding experience. Jazz musicians made great radio operators.
The Commanders of the 10th Cavalry regiment were Colonel Paul Davison, a USMA class of 1939 graduate,and Colonel B.O. Davis Sr.; He would be appointed the first Black General in US Army a year later, both were distinguished officers.
Served in the Tenth Cavalry Regiment from 1940 to 1944 Rank of 1st Lt.