America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

By James H. Willbanks | Go to book overview

Stowers, Freddie

Born: 1896

Died: September 28, 1918

Home State: South Carolina

Service: Army

Conflict: World War I

Age at Time of Award: 22

The grandson of a slave, Freddie Stowers was born in 1896 and raised on a farm in Sandy Springs, South Carolina. Draft ed in 1917, he was inducted in the newly formed 1st Provisional Infantry Regiment (Colored) at Camp Jackson, South Carolina. In December 1917, the 1st Provisional Infantry Regiment (Colored) was redesignated the 371st Infantry and assigned to the 186th Infantry Brigade (Colored) of the 93rd Division (Provisional). The division was composed of four African American regiments, three from the National Guard and the 371st composed of draft ees from the National Army.

At Camp Jackson, the 93rd spent many long days drilling and training basic soldier skills. British Officers and noncommissioned Officers arrived to train the men on trench warfare tactics, along with rifle practice, bayonet drill, grenade throwing, and even training on foreign mortars and machine guns. The 371st deployed with the division on April 5th, 1918, arriving at their final destination of Vaubecourt, France, by the end of the month. Although part of the American Expeditionary Force, upon reaching France all four African American regiments of the 93rd were permanently assigned to different French divisions. The 371st Infantry Regiment became a permanent unit of the French 157th “Red Hand” Division under the command of Gen. Mariano Goybet. The men of the 371st Infantry Regiment exchanged their American equipment for all French equipment except the US-issue brown woolen uniform. General Goybet even reorganized the 371st to the structure of a French infantry regiment.

By early June 1918, the men of the 371st were in the trenches in the Verrières sector between the Aire and Meuse rivers. Throughout the rest of the summer, the 371st made numerous raids on German positions, some small and some large, but all bloody. During this fighting, Stowers was recognized early on for his initiative and leadership abilities. Promoted to corporal and squad leader in Company C of the 1st Battalion, his leadership qualities would soon be put to the ultimate test in one of the largest battles of the war.

On September 28, 1918, the 371st jumped offin the Champagne-Marne sector as part of the immense Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Attacking across a front of 500 meters, the objective was Hill 188, a heavily fortified defense including massive barbed wire entanglements. Under intense machine gun and artillery fire, Stowers’s company penetrated the barbed wire and were closing in on the German positions. Suddenly, the Germans ceased fire and crawled out of their positions with their hands in the air. As the Americans moved forward to take prisoners, the Germans jumped back into their trenches and opened fire. Exposed in the open approximately 100 meters from the German positions, C Company was devastated by a withering fire from interlocking machine guns and mortars. Corporal Stowers’s platoon lost all of its leaders within seconds, and he immediately took charge by reorganizing the survivors in order to continue the attack. With complete disregard for his own safety, Stowers crawled forward toward a machine gun nest that was causing heavy casualties to his company. After destroying the machine gun nest, Stowers continued to lead his men forward to take the German positions. Stowers was struck by machine gun fire, and although mortally wounded, he continued to lead and encourage his fellow soldiers onward through heavy fire. Because of his extraordinary and inspirational courage, Stowers and his men captured the German trenches and all the machine gun positions. Stowers collapsed while organizing defensive positions to prepare for the inevitable enemy counterattack. He later died of his wounds.

Recommended by his company commander for the Medal of Honor, the paperwork was lost for over 70 years. Found among Army records in 1990, the Army dispatched a team to France to investigate Freddie Stowers’s actions. As a result of this investigation, the Army Decorations Board approved the only African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I. On April 24, 1991, in a White House ceremony, President George Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Stowers’s surviving sisters, Georgina Palmer and Mary Bowens. Corporal Stowers is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon in France.

Scott A. Porter


Further Reading

Aster, Gerald. The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1998.

Franklin, John Hope, and Alfred A. Moss Jr. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. 8Thed. 2 vols. in one. New York: Random House, 2004.

Lengel, Edward G. To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918: The Epic Battle That Ended the First World War. New York: Henry Holt, 2008.

Roberts, Frank E. The American Foreign Legion: Black Soldiers of the 93d in World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004.

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America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Entries ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Adams, Lucian 1
  • Baca, John P. 2
  • Bacon, Nicky Daniel 4
  • Baker, Vernon 6
  • Baldwin, Frank D. 8
  • Ballard, Donald E. 11
  • Barfoot, Van T. 13
  • Barnum, Harvey C., Jr 14
  • Barrett, Carlton W. 16
  • Basilone, John 18
  • Benavidez, Roy P. 20
  • Birkhimer, William E. 22
  • Blake, Robert 24
  • Bleak, David B. 25
  • Boyington, Gregory 27
  • Brady, Patrick Henry 29
  • Britt, Maurice L. 30
  • Brown, Bobbie E. 32
  • Bucha, Paul William 34
  • Burke, Lloyd L. 36
  • Bush, Robert Eugene 38
  • Butler, Smedley Darlington 40
  • Butterfield, Daniel 42
  • Cafferata, Hector a., Jr 43
  • Carney, William H. 45
  • Cavaiani, Jon R. 48
  • Chamberlain, Joshua L. 49
  • Childers, Ernest 51
  • Cody, William F. 53
  • Cohn, Abraham 55
  • Cole, Robert G. 57
  • Craft, Clarence B. 59
  • Crandall, Bruce P. 61
  • Custer, Thomas W. 63
  • Dahlgren, John Olof 65
  • Daly, Daniel Joseph 67
  • Davila, Rudolph B. 69
  • Davis, Charles W. 70
  • Davis, Raymond G. 73
  • Davis, Sammy L. 74
  • Day, George E. 76
  • Dean, William F. 78
  • Deblanc, Jefferson Joseph 79
  • Dix, Drew Dennis 81
  • Donlon, Roger Hugh C. 84
  • Donovan, William Joseph 85
  • Doolittle, James H. 87
  • Doss, Desmond T. 88
  • Dunham, Jason L. 90
  • Dunham, Russell E. 91
  • Dyess, Aquilla James 93
  • Ehlers, Walter D. 96
  • Evans, Ernest Edwin 98
  • Faith, Don C., Jr 100
  • Finn, John William 102
  • Fletcher, Frank Jack 104
  • Fluckey, Eugene Bennett 105
  • Foley, Robert F. 107
  • Foss, Joseph Jacob 109
  • Fox, John Robert 112
  • Freeman, Ed W. 113
  • Funston, Frederick 115
  • Galer, Robert Edward 117
  • García, Macario 119
  • Gonsalves, Harold 121
  • Gonzalez, Alfredo 123
  • Gordon, Gary I. 125
  • Hagemeister, Charles Chris 126
  • Harmon, Roy W. 128
  • Harrell, William George 130
  • Hatch, John P. 131
  • Hayashi, Shizuya 133
  • Hayes, Webb C. 134
  • Heard, John W. 137
  • Hendrix, James R. 139
  • Hernández, Rodolfo P. 140
  • Herrera, Silvestre S. 142
  • Hooper, Joe R. 144
  • Howard, Oliver O. 146
  • Howard, Robert L. 148
  • Inouye, Daniel K. 150
  • Irwin, Bernard J. D. 154
  • Izac, Edouard Victor Michel 155
  • Jackson, Joe M. 158
  • Jacobs, Jack H. 160
  • Joel, Lawrence 162
  • Kaufman, Benjamin 164
  • Keeble, Woodrow W. 166
  • Kelly, Charles E. 167
  • Kerrey, Joseph R. 169
  • Kisters, Gerry H. 171
  • Kouma, Ernest R. 173
  • Lang, George C. 175
  • Lemon, Peter C. 177
  • Levitow, John L. 178
  • Liteky, Angelo J. 181
  • Livingston, James E. 182
  • Lopez, Jose M. 184
  • Lucas, Jacklyn Harold 186
  • Luke, Frank, Jr 189
  • Mabry, George L., Jr 191
  • Macarthur, Arthur, Jr 193
  • Macarthur, Douglas 195
  • Mackie, John F. 198
  • Mallon, George H. 200
  • Marm, Walter Joseph, Jr 201
  • Martinez, Joe P. 203
  • McCool, Richard Miles, Jr 204
  • McGinnis, Ross A. 206
  • McGinty, John J., III 207
  • McKinney, John R. 209
  • Merli, Gino J. 211
  • Miles, L. Wardlaw 213
  • Miles, Nelson A. 214
  • Millett, Lewis L. 218
  • Miyamura, Hiroshi H. 220
  • Mize, Ola L. 223
  • Moffett, William A. 225
  • Monsoor, Michael A. 226
  • Monti, Jared C. 227
  • Munemori, Sadao S. 229
  • Munro, Douglas Albert 231
  • Murphy, Audie L. 233
  • Murphy, Michael P. 235
  • Murphy, Raymond G. 236
  • Norris, Thomas R. 238
  • Novosel, Michael J. 240
  • O’Hare, Edward Henry 243
  • O’Kane, Richard Hetherington 245
  • Okubo, James K. 246
  • Olive, Milton L., III 248
  • O’Neill, Richard W. 249
  • Page, John U. D. 251
  • Paige, Mitchell 254
  • Parker, Samuel I. 256
  • Pennypacker, Galusha 258
  • Penry, Richard A. 260
  • Pitsenbarger, William H. 262
  • Pittman, John A. 264
  • Pittman, Richard A. 265
  • Pope, Everett Parker 267
  • Pope, Thomas A. 269
  • Rascon, Alfred V. 271
  • Ray, Ronald Eric 273
  • Red Cloud, Mitchell, Jr 275
  • Rickenbacker, Edward V. 278
  • Roberts, Gordon R. 279
  • Rocco, Louis R. 281
  • Rodriguez, Joseph C. 283
  • Roosevelt, Theodore 285
  • Rosser, Ronald E. 287
  • Rubin, Tibor 289
  • Rudolph, Donald E. 291
  • Ruiz, Alejandro R. Renteria 293
  • Sakato, George T. 294
  • Salomon, Ben L. 296
  • Sandlin, Willie 298
  • Sasser, Clarence Eugene 300
  • Schofield, John M. 302
  • Shafter, William R. 303
  • Shoup, David Monroe 305
  • Shughart, Randall D. 307
  • Sickles, Daniel E. 310
  • Sijan, Lance P. 312
  • Simanek, Robert E. 313
  • Sitter, Carl L. 315
  • Smith, Andrew Jackson 317
  • Smith, Paul R. 319
  • Spurrier, Junior J. 320
  • Stockdale, James B. 322
  • Stone, James L. 324
  • Stowers, Freddie 326
  • Thornton, Michael Edwin 327
  • Thorsness, Leo K. 329
  • Titus, Calvin Pearl 332
  • Turner, George B. 333
  • Urban, Matt 335
  • Vandegrift, Alexander Archer 337
  • Vargas, Jay R. 339
  • Versace, Humbert R. 341
  • Wahlen, George Edward 343
  • Wai, Francis B. 345
  • Wainwright, Jonathan M. 347
  • Walker, Dr. Mary E. 349
  • Ware, Keith L. 350
  • Warren, Francis E. 352
  • Watson, George 353
  • Watters, Charles Joseph 354
  • Webb, Alexander S. 358
  • Wetzel, Gary George 360
  • Whiteley, Eli 362
  • Whittington, Hulon B. 363
  • Williams, Hershel Woodrow 365
  • Wilson, Louis Hugh, Jr. 367
  • Wood, Leonard 369
  • Woodfill, Samuel 372
  • York, Alvin C. 373
  • Young, Rodger W. 375
  • Zabitosky, Fred William 377
  • Zeamer, Jay, Jr. 379
  • Recipients of the Medal of Honor 381
  • Double Award Recipients 487
  • Medals of Honor Awarded by Conflict and Service 489
  • Bibliography 493
  • Index 511
  • About the Editor 529
  • Contributors 531
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