Regarding the Northern California centenarian, veteran of World War I, whose death was noted in The Times Sept. 26 and whose widow claimed his service in that conflict was as the first black commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, nothing could be further from the truth.
The first black commissioned officer was Lt. Henry O. Flipper, son of a Georgia slave and the first black to graduate from West Point. He was commissioned in 1877 and assigned to the 10th Cavalry, one of four black regiments authorized by Congress in 1866 and seeing action in the Indian Wars.
There were black commissioned officers in the Spanish-American War. By the time of World War I, the third black to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy, Charles Young, was a lieutenant colonel.