Eugene “Jacques” Bullard: Georgia Sharecropper’s Son & French World War Hero
War has altered the destinies of so many.
The June 28, 1914 assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia.
Serbia was allied with Russia. Austria-Hungary had an alliance with Germany. Owing to different allegiances, Germany, Russia, France and Great Britain all became key players in The Great War.
On October 9, 1914, a Georgia sharecropper’s son enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. Bullard’s father had often told Eugene, his lucky seventh child, stories about places beyond Columbia, Georgia, where all men were treated equally.
Anxious to escape the oppression of Jim Crow Georgia, Eugene sold his pet goat and ran away from home.
He ran errands and worked as a jockey. As a lightweight, a teenage Bullard boxed his way through Europe. Eventually, he arrived in France. And when World War I was declared, he joined the French Foreign Legion.
Bullard spoke fluent French and some German and he fought valiantly in the trenches of Verdun. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre along with other medals for his bravery.
Later, he flew combat missions in a SPAD bi-plane with the Lafayette Flying Squad and shot down red German Fokker planes.
At that time, the U.S. wouldn’t allow African-Americans into its air service. And when the U.S. joined the War effort, Bullard was abruptly discharged from service.
Today, I’m grateful to Eugene “Jacques” Bullard and the many servicemen and women around the globe who have fought for, and continue to fight, for freedom from oppression.
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