During World War II, thousands of Allied troops landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 for the historic D-Day invasion, including roughly 2,000 African American soldiers. Despite facing discrimination in a segregated military, they fought alongside their comrades with courage.

The 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only African American combat unit that day, set up explosive-rigged balloons to deter German planes. Corporal Waverly Woodson Jr., a medic with the battalion, recounted his experience of landing craft hit by German fire. He tended to the wounded for 30 hours on Omaha Beach, despite being injured.

William Dabney, another member, described the fierce firing and chaos on the beach during the invasion. The unit’s valor is detailed in Linda Hervieux’s book “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War.”

Despite segregation, African American soldiers fought bravely. By the war’s end, over a million African Americans were in uniform, yet they still faced discrimination. Johnnie Jones Sr., a warrant officer, recalls facing danger in Normandy and discrimination back home.

Their stories highlight not just their bravery in battle but also the challenges they faced both abroad and at home, fighting for a victory over segregation.