Updated: Mar 8
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As we look back on Black History month and approach Jackie Robinson Day, we would like to spotlight Mr. Robinson as we launch the Bob Feller Act of Valor Hall of Fame Military Spotlight Series. Our first issue of 39 National Baseball Hall of Fame players plus Jerry Coleman will kickstart a new educational email series illuminating the military accomplishments of our 39 HOF honorees.
Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s decades-old color barrier in 1947, when he stepped foot onto Ebbets Field as the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman, however, few know that before his legendary career as a professional baseball player, Robinson served in the United States Army during WWII.
Robinson broke barriers on and off the playing field, leaving his mark in the military as well as baseball. He returned home to California two days before the Pearl Harbor attack and was drafted into the U.S. Army a year later. Serving at Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Hood, Texas, Jackie became a lieutenant in the 761st Tank Battalion and was one of the few African Americans that served there.
His experience in the military did not come without trials as he experienced segregation while serving and was court martialed after refusing to sit in the back of a military bus in 1944. He was eventually acquitted because the order was in violation of the War Department ‘s policy against racial discrimination on U.S. Army posts.
Robinson was honorably discharged on November 28, 1944, after an ankle injury prevented him from serving overseas, but dedicated his life to racial integration and made sacrifices to serve his country as well. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by President Reagan and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2005.
Jackie Robinson’s moral courage, character, and fierce opposition to racism while in the Army foreshadowed the impact the future Hall of Famer would have on the game of Baseball.
We are proud to spotlight, Jack Roosevelt Robinson as one the 39 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Honorees.