Friday, April 20, 2012

Marching Marchbanks: An Arizona Connection

As I was looking through old newspaper articles, I came across a rather nice looking man who was enrolled at the University Of Arizona in Tucson. Intrigued, I wondered what happened to him. As I read the article and started to dig around, I found another person that started the heart of what I call the Marching Marchbank's.
Vance Hunter Marchbank's Sr was a warrant officer in the famed 9th and 10th Calvary who served his country for well over forty years. Vance Sr registered on August 2nd 1895 in Nashville Tennessee and was assigned to the 9th Calvary click on image to see number 3 on Register
Through his many military travels he wound up in Ft Huachuca Arizona with the famed Buffalo Soldiers Excerpt : In 1927, while Marchbanks was living at Fort Huachuca, he was asked to give a talk to a convention of Sunday School teachers at McNary, Arizona, a "lumber camp town of about 1,500 people." [In 1924 the town became known as McNary after the name of the lumber company which bought the property in that year. The place had formerly been known as Cooley and Cooley's Ranch, a stopover for Marchbanks when he was at Forts Wingate and Apache. A number of African-American men were imported to work in the sawmill, so it is likely that his audience was largely made up of blacks.] The subject of his speech was to be "Reminiscences of a Trooper at Fort Apache in 1900." After talking briefly about his experiences around Fort Apache, Marchbanks then goes on to make an eloquent statement about patriotism, about the contributions of the "colored soldier" to the nation, and about racial injustice. As a colored soldier, he felt he had duties beyond the battlefield. He said ..... If you want equal rights in this country, if you want to make yourselves felt, if you do not want your children to wait long years before they have the bread on the table, the leisure in their lives they ought to have, the opportunity in life they ought to have;if you do not want to wait yourselves, write on your banner so that every political trimmer can read it so that every politician no matter how shortsighted he may be can read it "We Never Forget, We Never Forget, We Never Forget."
Van Sr retired in 1939 as a Captain The rest of Sr Vance's story can be found as well as the excerpt at the link listed below: Huachuca Illustrated Roll Call: First Sergeant Vance Hunter Marchbanks
Vance H Marchbanks Jr Vance Jr born in 1905 in Washakie Wyoming. He was the son of Vance and Calie Halton Marchbanks. I found the 1920 census listing the Marchbanks living in Tennessee when Van Jr was fourteen yrs old.
In 1926, the University of Tucson student Vance Marchbanks Jr applied to take the exam for West Point. Junior was approved by President Calvin Coolidge.
The Academy was located in New York and is the number one Military Academy in the United States. Marchbanks, was given the opportunity. Why it had been many a year the last time a African American had been admitted to such a fine school. That man was Charles Young from Mays Lick Kentucky
As for Vance Jr some say that because he was the son of Sr that he had a straight ticket into the academy. Not true. He still had to get through and the challenge was the sign of the times. When Vance reported in El Paso Texas to take the exam in 1926 he was rejected for some unknown reason **wink,wink**. He then reapplied and was again rejected. This time the charge was because of his age. Little did they know that he was to become a better man because of it. Did he actually fail. Some say no, it was the bitterness of racism. Vance Jr graduated from the University of Tucson in Arizona, obtained his medical degree from Howard Medical School in 1937, and went on to become one of the Tuskegee Army Air Field Medical Officers. He continued on to make history: He also was a pioneer in the space program when he was the head surgeon when he monitored John Glenn in his journey through space. He collected vital medical information on the astronauts before during and after space flights.