The white colonel who refused to court-martial Lt. Jackie Robinson after the man who was to integrate major league baseball refused to move to the rear of a bus, has died.
Paul L. Bates, commander of the first black tank battalion to enter combat in World War II, died Tuesday in Dunedin, Fla., at age 86.
Bates was in charge of the 761st Tank Battalion, which entered combat in November, 1944, as part of Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army.
"Hit Hard," a book published about the unit, said it fought for 183 days without relief. In battles in France, Germany and Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge, the 761st was credited with capturing or destroying 30 major towns, four airstrips, ammunition dumps and hundreds of vehicles and tanks.