"The white troops were curious about us," recalls Wade, now 74 and a retired businessman living in Irving, Texas. "They didn't know what we could do." What the black volunteers did, of course, was fight bravely and well. Two weeks after joining the 16th Infantry Regiment near the Belgian city of Liège, Wade was leading a squad of black soldiers into a fierce battle one night when a shell exploded beside him. "The next thing I felt was flying through the air," says Wade. He underwent surgery in a field hospital to remove shrapnel from his chest, arm, shoulder and eyelid.
Wade was awarded a Purple Heart, but he and many other of the volunteers never had their ranks restored and received discharge papers that failed to note their combat service. He lobbied to right these wrongs, and on July 23 in a Pentagon ceremony, Wade and four of his comrades in arms were reinstated to their prior ranks and awarded Bronze Stars for their service in battle. Other black veterans became "my family," says Wade, "and my family was being mistreated."
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