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Posthumous Honors for Black WWII Vet

Associated Press Published: January 20, 2008

In October, the Army's Board of Corrections of Military Records ruled that the soldiers were unfairly denied access to their attorneys and investigative records. The panel set aside their convictions.

Drake said that ruling redeemed Townsell's name and honor, as it did for the other soldiers. All but two of the 28 convicted men are deceased.

"The main thing that a man has is his name and his honor," Drake said. "We knew him to be such a man of honor and that's why we were so distraught to know that he had this tarnish somewhere on his record."

Townsell's oldest daughter, Marion, received the flag in the ceremony at Graceland Cemetery on Milwaukee's north side.

Drake said the Army apologized to the family and that left them in tears.

"It was better than anything we would have imagined," Drake said Saturday. "I'm just lost for words."

Drake said the Army also promised a bronze military headstone for his grave.

Townsell's widow, 88-year-old Delores, is quite ill and was not be able to attend, Drake said.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who requested the review with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., attended the flag ceremony and the reception, which was at the city's War Memorial Center.

"Every family has pride and this is a way to give them an opportunity to be proud. They should be," McDermott said.

McDermott said he is looking into getting compensation for the families of the other men, including lost pay and benefits. Snow received a check for $725, which McDermott said isn't enough.

Hamann, who attended Saturday's service, said Townsell's family was instrumental in pushing the case.

"This family legitimately loved Booker Townsell and he just sounds like an amazing guy. They knew he carried this burden with him his entire life," he said.


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