Veterans Day is Sunday, and all this week we're hearing stories from Colorado veterans who participated in StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative in Colorado Springs earlier this year.
Robert “Bob” Munn grew up in Barbados, and relocated to Chicago with his parents in 1943 at age 12. He joined the military at 17 and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan during the Korean War.
In this interview, Bob talks to his girlfriend, Karen Dannewitz, about racial segregation in the Army, the lessons he learned from the women in his family and why he chose to return to the U.S.
On the segregated Army:
“It was black units, white units. And all the black units had white commanders, like lieutenants and captains. They didn’t have no black leadership, other than your first sergeant. And so… I didn’t care for it, but that was the Army.”
On different responses to segregation:
“The guys in the south, they didn’t have no problem. They were used to that… You know, being segregated. It didn’t bother them as much as it did the boys that were from the northern United States. My grandmother and my mother would never let me be bogged down into that segregated thing so much, they always made me remember that I was a decent young man, I was a human and God made me. So [they] wouldn’t let me fall into those traps.”
This conversation was edited from its original form in both audio and written form for time purposes and clarity.
The Military Voices Initiative from StoryCorps is sponsored in part by the Peak Military Care Network.