Preserving the memories of a Buffalo Soldier

This week’s American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast episode welcomes Ivan A. Houston, the son and grandson of Buffalo Soldiers, who finished his father’s book about his triumphant return to the Italian village he helped liberate.

While Houston did not serve, he was a designer and test driver of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, MLRS and Humvee military vehicle. “In the end, the Bradley wasn’t a tank, but it looked like it. It looked tougher than it really was. It was fun for me to work on.”

Ivan J. Houston, his father, was a Buffalo Soldier in the 92nd Division who served in Europe during World War II. His grandfather was also a Buffalo Soldier in the 92nd Division, who served in France during World War I.

Houston’s father wrote a book about a decade ago, based on his journal from World War II. “Dad was one of the few folks who talked about World War II,” he said. “A lot of my friends had parents who were in the war and they never talked about it.”

After the book was published, the elder Houston was regularly honored in Italy from 2012 to 2019. He decided to write a second book about those experiences. The entire family went on the last trip to Lucca, which his father helped liberate nearly 70 years ago. (Learn more about the books, “Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II” and “Black Warriors: The Return of the Buffalo Soldier.”)

 “Dad led this procession of 5,000 strong into a cathedral, where there was a statue of a Black Jesus” that had been in the town for centuries, the son said. “There’s also a room dedicated to him in the museum in Roncoli.”

He also added some sections to the book highlighting the family’s experience and Italian families that were affected by the liberation.

“Dad was sharp until the very end, he was on point before he passed, which was very helpful to me,” he said. “He would tell me, ‘Don’t forget to finish the book.’”

There also is a documentary about only Black infantry division to fight for the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. The documentary, “With One Tied Hand,” is the documentary based on his book, Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II.

Also in the episode, hosts Jeff Daly and Ashley Gutermuth discuss:

• Is there any place more romantic than an Air Force base?, Gutermuth wonders.

• Where to find free career guidance for veterans.

• The ocean rescue of a man who was hanging on to a plastic cooler lid, the size of a boogie board.

Check out this week’s episode, which is among more than 200 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.