Seventeen years old, frustrated by segregation, and inspired by the service of Black Soldiers in World War II, Arthur J. Gregg enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 and deployed soon after to support supply operations in occupied Germany.
As he helped the Army establish and rebuild the devastated region, Gregg excelled in the work and envisioned his rise within it. He went to Officer Candidate School in 1949, one year after President Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces. As a result, it fell to Soldiers and officers like Gregg to put this policy into practice by changing the culture in their commands and desegregating the Army from the ground up.
Gregg did so with great skill, leading by example and embarking on a career of excellence from the moment he graduated OCS, beginning with his first assignment as an officer at Camp Lee in 1950, which was redesignated as Fort Lee later that year. He went on to run a supply depot in Japan, command a supply and support battalion in Vietnam, serve in several assignments in Germany throughout the Cold War, and lead the Army and Air Force Exchange System. At the peak of his career, Gregg was the logistics director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Army.
In addition to his extensive service around the world, Gregg also promoted equality and excellence at home. As a young officer at Fort Lee in the early 1950s, he experienced first-hand – and never forgot – the challenges of desegregating facilities across the post. He later became the first Black officer promoted to general officer in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps and, upon his retirement in 1981, was the highest-ranking Black officer in the U.S. military.
Throughout his career, Gregg mentored numerous younger Soldiers and when the Army established an award for logistics innovation and excellence in 2016, its namesake – and first recipient – was LTG Arthur J. Gregg.