This general’s family: From segregation to command in 100 years
The Associated Press
By: Christina L. Myers
March 17, 2019
"That was one thing I did reflect on. Somebody at some point in time said your particular race can't do that," Beagle said. "At some point our ancestors fought so we could be in those front-line units and those combat units."
Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., commander of Fort Jackson, South Carolina, speaks to the president of the Sgt. Isaac Woodard Historical Marker Association following the dedication ceremony in Batesburg-Leesville, S.C., last month. The general is descended from a soldier who served at Camp Jackson in a segregated Army more than a century ago. (Christina Myers/AP)COLUMBIA, S.C. — Pvt. Walter Beagles arrived at Camp Jackson, South Carolina, in 1918, an African American draftee in a segregated Army that relegated black soldiers to labor battalions out of a prejudiced notion that they couldn’t fight.
More than 100 years later, his great-grandson now serves as Fort Jackson’s 51st commanding general.
Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., a combat veteran who took command last June, admits that it gets to him, knowing he’s serving where his ancestor served but under vastly different circumstances.
"It does become pretty surreal to know that the gates my great-grandfather came through are the same gates I come through," Beagle said. "You always reflect back to you're standing on somebody's shoulders. Somebody put that stair in place so you can move one more rung up."
Beagle hails from the same town where his great-grandfather came from: Enoree, South Carolina. The family dropped the "s'' from the end of its name during his grandfather's lifetime.
He says he felt compelled to enter the infantry as a young man at least partly because African Americans once were largely shunted aside — considered inferior and unsuited to combat.
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