U.S. ARMY CHEMICAL CORPS
Hall of Fame
701st Chemical Maintenance Company (Aviation)
These seven Soldiers were in a detachment from the 701st Chemical Maintenance Company (Aviation), a unit that was trained in the movement, storage, maintenance, handling and loading of aerial chemical munitions. Unfortunately at that time, most African-Americans were relegated to service units. The 701st was one of these segregated units, with predominately African-American enlisted Soldiers and white officers. The loss of these 7 Chemical Warfare Service Soldiers may represent the first casualties of the Technical Escort mission.
In November, 1943, the 701st Chemical Maintenance Company would board the “liberty ship” SS John Harvey, bound for Bari Harbor, Italy. On the evening of 2 December 1943, the harbor at Bari was attacked by German bombers. As the attack raged on, many crews abandoned ship immediately, with many observers noting that the crew of the SS John Harvey, including the members of the 701st, worked tirelessly for hours, fire-fighting and trying to prevent the loss of their ship and cargo. Tragically, the entire crew was lost when the SS John Harvey exploded. Sadly, no members of the 701st would be recovered.
Today we remember the selfless service and sacrifice of the members the 701st Chemical Maintenance Company (Aviation): 1LT Howard Dale Beckstrom; SGT Broadus J. Jamerson, Jr.; PFC Bennie G. Taylor; PFC Charles E. Thompson; PFC Fred Wilson; PVT Wilson Brodie; and PVT Willie Tensley.