Virginia Western Community College and Dr. Annette Chamberlin, Assistant Dean and Associate History Professor, will host author Linda Hervieux for a discussion of “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War” on February 22 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Natural Science Center on Virginia Western’s main campus. This is an intimate opportunity to meet the author, whose travels to share this intriguing story include places such as the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; Washington DC, Army and Navy Club; and Harvard Law School.
Later in the evening, in commemoration of black history month, Hervieux will also be at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford for a special presentation and signing event. In November, Hervieux presented her book at a special reception event at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture at Center in the Square where a veteran from the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion joined her.
Published by Harper Collins in October, Forgotten is the story of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions on D-Day have gone fairly unrecognized, until recently. Among the first wave of invaders on June 6, 1944 was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers tasked with sending up a curtain of small blimps on cables to deter enemy aircraft and protect landings. In this extraordinary blend of military and social history, Hervieux brings to life the heroic story of these men, their personal lives at home and the injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America and finally pays tribute to their valor.
Like thousands of other African Americans, members of the 320th battalion were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied to them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedoms they had not known. They would carry these experiences back to America, to fuel the budding civil rights movement and further shape history.
Hervieux has written more about the 320th men at www.lindahervieux.com, which has a page devoted to each man she tracked down and a video trailer featuring their story.