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History rewritten at Fort Lawton

July 26th, 2008 · 39 Comments

UpdatedSamuel Snow, the Army veteran honored this weekend, died early Sunday at Virginia Mason Medical Center, hours after the U.S. Army awarded him an honorable discharge and apologized for the “grievous wrong,” done to him and 27 other black soldiers more than 60 years ago.

In a moving ceremony attended by over 350 people, the U.S. Army apologized to the families of 28 African American soldiers from Fort Lawton who were wrongly convicted and jailed in 1944.  The case revolved around a riot and murder of another soldier.

Magnolia residents Jack and Leslie Hamann wrote the book American Soil outlining the case.  Hamann and U.S. Representative Jim McDermott led the charge to have the convictions overturned based on the clear evidence that the 28 men were innocent.

Late last year, the Army awarded honorable discharges to each of the men and ordered that their estates be issued back pay and benefits.

The families of seven of the soldiers attended the ceremony that honored their relatives.  Eighty four year old Samuel Snow, one of two known surviving veterans, also came to Seattle but became ill and had to be hospitalized with heart troubles prior to the ceremony today.  His son, Ray Snow, told the crowd that his father holds no animosity and has found forgiveness.

Ronald James, assistant secretary of the Army thanked the families for allowing the Army to partially correct what he called a grievous wrong.

“The Army is genuinely sorry.  I am sorry, said James.

Following the event the crowd enjoyed a free picnic.

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