369th Infantry Regiment Memorial

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This monument honors the legendary 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. The black granite obelisk is a replica of a 1997 memorial that stands at Sechault in Northern France, where the 369th soldiers distinguished themselves during World War I. Unveiled on September 29, 2006, the 88th anniversary of that battle, the obelisk is 12 feet high and features gilded inscriptions, the 369th’s crest, and its coiled rattlesnake insignia.

During World War I, United States Armed Forces remained segregated by race.  In 1913, New York established the 15th New York Colored Infantry Regiment, a unit of the National Guard. The U.S. Army mustered the unit into Federal service in 1917, and the 369th Colored Infantry Regiment arrived in France that December, among the first 100,000 troops of the American Expeditionary Forces.

Exhibiting extraordinary valor, the 369th, an integral part of the Fourth French Army, fought on the front until the time of the armistice. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive the 369th showed exceptional bravery, especially during the liberation of Sechault on September 29, 1918, when a third of the regiment suffered casualties.

Cited for their heroism, 171 members of the regiment were decorated with the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War), and one officer received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Upon their return to the United States, the Harlem Hellfighters were honored by the City with a victory parade up Fifth Avenue. During World War II, the 369th distinguished itself at Okinawa, and later fought in the Korean and Persian Gulf Wars.  The unit survives today as a sustainment brigade.

The 369th Historical Society Veterans Association was supported by numerous associated organizations in the commission of this monument. In addition, the U.S. Army Transportation Group moved the monument from its fabricator in France to an airfield in Germany, and the U.S. Air Force then brought it to New York. NYC Parks reconfigured this triangle, located at Fifth Avenue and 142nd Street, for the monument.

Just across the street stands the 369th Armory, one of the last erected in New York City. It was built between 1921 and 1933 and combines both medieval and art deco influences. The building is still home to the 369th Sustainment Brigade, as well as historical exhibits, and its former drill shed houses a recreation center managed by the Police Athletic League.

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016

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