Saying Goodbye To A Member Of American History

Monday, July 16th 2007, 8:14 pm
By: News On 6

Family, friends and fellow soldiers laid to rest a member of American history Monday. Dr. Wilbert Wilson, one of the last Buffalo Soldiers, died last week. Doc Wilson, as he was affectionately known, wore the title of Buffalo Soldier with pride. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports the moniker is a sign of a bygone era, a time when soldiers were segregated, and the all-black regiments were known as some of the fiercest and bravest around.

The honor guard came from Muskogee. A group of reenactors made the trip from Fort Sill in Lawton. All to salute a man, who wasn't just a soldier, but part of a legacy.

Dr. Wilbert Wilson was part of the all-black 10th Calvary, nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers.

"The Indians thought they were aggressive like the buffaloes, and they had the wooly hair like the buffaloes, so they called them Buffalo Soldiers back in those days,” said Dr. Wilbert Wilson’s brother Lewis Wilson.

Doc Wilson joined the Army in the 1940s, when the units were still segregated. Wilson told us in 1992, he served his country proudly, even when the country didn't recognize him as a full citizen.

"Insult you on a bus, it hurt you, but that was the trend of life then. You accepted it,” said Wilbert Wilson.

In death, this soldier got the honor and respect he deserved.

"There's something timeless and eternal in that. It's like this continues, ladies and gentleman,” said Honor Guard Chaplain Lee Griffin. “I can't think of anything lovelier as a final musical benediction."

Dr. Wilson kept his uniforms and other memorabilia, spending much of his later years sharing the story of the Buffalo Soldiers with a new generation.

"To me, I didn't realize I was making history,” Wilbert Wilson said. “In fact, it's just been in the last eight to 10 years, I just realized how important and how colorful a background the unit has."

And it's that story that drew so many strangers to his final farewell.

"I did not know him, but I feel that I do know him, based on the materials that I've read on the Buffalo Soldiers and the trials and tribulations, and the tremendous work that they did making this country what it is today,” said Fort Sill Trooper Paul Cherry.

The Buffalo Soldiers units were formed in 1866 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There's a monument dedicated to those and their legacy.

Watch the video: Buffalo Soldier Laid To Rest