As Black History Month Begins, A War Hero’s Memory Lives On

Richard Goines and other soldiers haul supplies to the Allied front lines in 1918. Credits: Courtesy of Richard Sears Walling

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - As was the case for African American men during the First World War, Richard O. Goines was officially barred from any combat role.

It didn’t stop Goines from signing up. And so he became one of 250 men from New Jersey who served in the decorated  “Harlem Hellfighters,” a segregated​ "​colored​"​ unit, officially called the 369th Infantry Regiment.

Inevitably, the Harlem Hellfighters and the thousands of men who passed through the regiment ended up on the front lines during the last six months o​f​ the war.

Sign Up for E-News

Eight other men from New Brunswick served in the regiment, but Goines was special: he earned one of France’s highest military honors during​the Great War: the Croix de guerre (War Cross).

Just shy of a thousand Americans were given the honor, out of the 4.5 million ​soldiers ​from the United States who served, according to Middlesex County native Richard Sears Walling. The lion’s share of medals, ​more than 2 million, were given to Frenchmen.

A retired high school history teacher and independent historian, Walling said he’s on a mission to document the story of the Harlem Hellfighters and men like Goines.

Unit regimental supply company, circa 1918. Credit: Courtesy of Richard Sears Walling

“​Being a Jersey guy, I was really interested in researching the role of Jersey men in the regiment, and there were over 250 Jersey men who served,” Walling said.

“When I see a man who particularly jumps out at me, I profile them,” Walling added.

The Harlem Hellfighters started out as the 15th National Guard Regiment, which had its armory in the Harlem neighborhood.

“I’m just fascinated with the Jersey men who served in this regiment,” Walling said. “They included Native American men, the Ramapough men of North Jersey, and eight of them served ​from​ New Brunswick.”

Goines, born on Jan. 18, 1893 in North Carolina​,​ signed up in 1917 when the United States entered the global conflict.

At the time, he was living with his wife on Delavan Street and working as the chauffeur for Dr. Jacob G. Lipman, then-director of the N​ew Jersey​ Agricultural Experiment Station​, now operated by Rutgers University.​

The regiment didn’t see combat at first, but rather, they were bounced around from one post to another across the country, akin to a game of hot potato.

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Sears Walling

“The US Army was extremely segregated and racist at the time,” Walling ​noted.

Eventually, the regiment was shipped to France, where the men were put to work as laborers and support personnel.

“After two months of doing labor work, the French had been so desperate of replacing troops, the US Army command structure, particularly Gen. John Pershing, said ‘you want men, I have this regiment, I’ll give you this regiment’,” Walling said.

Th​at​ was March 1918.​​ For the next six months, the Harlem Hellfighters were constantly ​at the front line.

The regiment served alongside the French army. They wore American uniforms and used U.​S​.​ flags, but were issued French equipment and weapons.

The men were issued the French “M15 Adrian helmet,” a crude version of the modern military helmet. It was​handed out ​to the millions of Frechmen who fought in the war.

Over the course of the regiment’s tour, the military unit cycled between ​2,000-5,000 men, first made up mainly of volunteers, but then ​by draftees​,​ as the war progressed.

“Sixty percent of the regiment was made up of draftee replacement men from across the country, guys from California, Montana, the southwest and the Deep South,” Walling said. “And because of that, local newspapers, say from Savannah, ​Georgia​ or New Orleans, they’d run articles about local boys who were serving in this regiment."

​There were 171 men in the Harlem Hellfighters given the Croix de guerre, out of the​1,000 US men to whom it was awarded. The entire regiment was also issued a unit-wide Croix de guerre, Walling said.

“They were one of the most decorated U​​.S regiments,” Walling said.

Goines’ award was issued for “individual bravery under fire.” Walling suspected it was for actions taken in September​ 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a massive Allied assault against the German front lines.

“He was in the supply company, he was humping ammunition from the rear lines to the front lines,” Walling said. “He was exposed to artillery fire, machine gun fire, gas, planes. Whatever he did as a soldier was so brave that individually he received the cross.”

Goines returned to the United States in 1919, where he spent some time at his father’s home in Orlando, FL., according to newspaper clippings.

He ​then became active in local veterans affairs and worked in the athletics department of the New Brunswick school system.

Towards the end of the 1920s, he relocated to Montclair, and then in 1954, to San Bernardino, CA., where he stayed until his death on Sept. 20, 1985.

Goines’ story wasn’t the only one Walling wanted to highlight. There was another man from New Brunswick, Archibald “Archie” Redd, who served in the Harlem Hellfighters.

Sept. 8, 1918 edition of the New Brunswick Sunday Times. Credit: Courtesy of Richard Sears Walling

Redd’s parents, who hailed from Virginia, gave birth to Archie in New Brunswick on June 14, 1889. During the next few decades before the war, Redd moved around the city.

When he signed up at the age of 27, Redd was employed at the Heldingsfields New Brunswick printing office. Redd attained the rank of corporal before returning home at the end of the war.

Newspaper clippings show that he, Goines and two other soldiers, William Fitzgerald and Johnny Mason, were thrown a banquet hosted by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Civic League of Colored Citizens.

In 1921, ​Redd​ and his wife, Cynthia, were among the founding members of the St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of New Brunswick.

Years later, he became active in the Middlesex County ​A​rea American Legion, along with officers from towns around New Brunswick, and held the rank of Sergeant-at-Arms.

Redd passed away in 1960, leaving his Hamilton Street residence to his sister. Many of the immediate family of Goines and Redd have since passed away.

Credit: Courtesy of Richard Sears Walling

But Walling said he wants to continue keeping the memory of these men alive, and over the years, was involved with lectures detailing theit stories. 

One such lecture, part of the county’s 2018 Black History Month Celebration, will feature keynote speaker Dr. Jeffrey Sammons, a history professor at New York University, who will discuss the Harlem Hellfighters in detail.

Sammons is co-author of Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality.

That event, free and open to the public, is scheduled for Feb. 16, 12:30 p.m. in the jury room of the Middlesex County Courthouse at 56 Bayard St.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz,

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - February 23, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing Is going on Winter Break, returning Monday, March 5


 NEWARK - The Archdiocese of Newark is somehow making national news, after Cardinal Joseph Tobin sent out a tweet Wednesday that raised one or two eyebrows. Tobin tweeted "Nighty-night, baby. I love you," Hmm, people asked. Now who ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 22, 2018


TRENTON - If New Jersey raises the sales tax back to 7 percent, will anyone notice? That's the big question from New Jersey Policy Perspective, which questions last year's gimmick that cut the sales tax rate to 6.625 percent. NJ 101.5reports that tax cut equates to $2 a week in "savings" for middle-class families. Meanwhile, this ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 21, 2018


ON THE HIGHWAY - Authorities were frantically looking into a "mystery tar" that appeared suddenly on cars driving along I-295 in South Jersey, causing tires to gel with the road. They quickly realized that a stretch of the highway in Salem County was smeared with liquid asphalt, leaked from a tanker and causing dozens of cars to get ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 20, 2018


STATEWIDE - Jittery parents are sending their jittery kids to jittery schools this morning, as classes resume after a President's Day weekend filled with wall-to-wall news coverage about gun safety. School districts statewide have been reporting threats - all thankfully not credible - as district leaders are on the highest alert. East Brunswick, for ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 16, 2018


E STREET - While a tired nation is demanding gun control (yet again), Springsteen guitarist Stevie Van Zandt is having none of it. No stranger to political opinions, the New Jersey icon tweeted "What happened to us? We are averaging 2 school shootings per week AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!" Many tone-deaf politicians on Capitol Hill ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 15, 2018


TRENTON - As state lawmakers are set to announce a bill at 11 a.m. to decriminalize pot - an issue that has consumed the Statehouse -  the Record is reporting on an often-ignored issue: the state's ridiculously antiquated liquor laws. For example, supermarkets in the state can only have up to two liquor licenses, stemming ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, February 24


Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden


Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

New Jersey Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve, Plainsboro

Family Adventures - Early Spring: Emerging ...


Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

Edison High School Auditorium, Edison

Free community viewing of "Bag It"


Trees Have Sex? Rutgers Researchers Have All the Answers

February 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A few years ago, Rutgers researcher Jennifer Blake-Mahmud was working on a botany project in Virginia when colleagues pointed out a striped maple, a common tree in the understory of mountain forests from Nova Scotia to Georgia. 


“They told me, ‘We think it switches sex from year to year, but we don’t know why,’ and I said, ...

Rutgers Union Rally Planned Friday for $15 Minimum Wage

New Brunswick, NJ - On Friday, February 23, student groups, a coalition of Rutgers unions, and representatives from campuses across the nation will hold a rally and march on College Avenue to demand a $15 minimum wage.

The action, initiated by the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and the Rutgers American Association of University Professors - American Federation of ...

RU Students Rejoice: Starbucks Reopens at The Yard@College Avenue

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - In what many consider to be the biggest news of the day on the Rutgers University campus, the Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue has once again reopened.

Officials with the New Brunswick Development Corp. reported this morning that the popular coffeehouse is open "for good."

The Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue, located at the corner of College ...

Valeski: Placing Police Officers in Schools was Planned for Two Years

February 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - In the midst of a media firestorm Tuesday, Dr. Victor Valeski, East Brunswick Superintendent of Schools, fielded questions from local and national journalists regarding the placement of armed police officers inside each of the district's K-12 buildings.  The move seemed to many as a "knee-jerk" reaction to the fear generated by the massacre of ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...


Letter to the Editor: Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 15, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

Somerset Patriots Sign Frontier League All-Star RHP Randy McCurry

February 17, 2018

The Somerset Patriots have announced the signing of right-handed relief pitcher Randy McCurry for the 2018 season.

“I’m excited to play in the Atlantic League this year,” said McCurry. “It’ll be a transition for me but I am ready to face some really good competition and help the team win.”

McCurry enters his first season with the Somerset Patriots and ...